Tag Archives: Art

First Glazed Clay, Ever!

March 24, 2012
My Future

First glazed clay, ever!  Well, the first ever for My Future students.  From raw clay, to bisque fire, and now to glaze, each stage spoke a little about the personality and spirit of the artist.  I’d hate to say what that is or means, but I am willing to say, the gloss of glaze allows for reflection and a little self reflection, well, every once in a while, is good.

© David B. Bell 2012

Spring Horse

Photographer David Biddle

March 17, 2012
My Future
Yakama Mission
JustLiving Farm

SPRING HORSE—Yakama Reservation April 21, 2012

Spring Horse is a day for anyone who wants to experience the wild as few have the opportunity.  From sunrise to sunset, you have the chance to spend a partial or full day with photographers who will help you frame a photo of wild beauty.  BUT, you do not have to be a photographer to enjoy the day!  If you are simply interested in experiencing the wild horses of the Yakama Reservation, join us!  Bring your binoculars, spotting scopes, compact cameras, DSLR cameras, whatever fits your needs.

There is no fee for the day, but donations are encouraged.  All donations go to MY FUTURE, the art-based after-school program of the Yakama Mission.

We are lucky to have five great photographers whose photo’s call for pause: David Biddle, Roger Lynn, Jeff Kent, Rebecca and Andy Lee.

Save the date of April 21 for Spring Horse and send an email to dave@justlivingfarm.org to receive further info as it becomes available and reserve a spot for the day!

Spring Horse is a collaborative opportunity provided by the Yakama Mission and JustLiving Farm—Good Spirit, Good Land, Good Food.

© David B. Bell 2012

Playing With Our Future

March 9, 2012
My Future

There is a misnomer that an after-school program like My Future only occurs after school.  Sure, the program hours are mostly after school, but time put in by staff happens at all hours and that time is not only about after school.

For instance, the Small Schools Band Festival occurred this last week.  An event where bands from small schools all come together for a day, create one large band, practice together all day, and at the end of the day perform for the community.  Events like these not only come together with the help of many people, but they serve the students of multiple programs.  This is why My Future is in partnership with the school district and other after school programs—together, much more can occur and many more can be served, than any one program can do on its own.

So, for an entire day, Belinda hung with the middle and high school band at the Grandview High School.  Youth met peers from schools across the countryside, played together—a bit rough at first, ate lunch, played together—became really good!, ate supper, and then performed for the community.  Not only did youth have the opportunity to meet and develop new friendships, they played unbelievable music together!

Sometimes it seems as if My Future is really in harmony with Our Future.

© David B. Bell 2012

Getting More from Fluid Absolutes

March 2, 2012
My Future

We expect a lot out of art.  Sometimes we get more.

We call the time we get together during after-school hours an extended learning opportunity.  However, we seldom if ever ask youth to do their homework, get a math book out, or read a book.  Rather, we insist on engaging art.  Now, anyone working with youth knows insisting only goes so far, but we do it just the same and eventually most youth engage for a moment.  By engaging, we hope minds and imagination begin to wander the edges of structure, framework, and boxes and begin to experience the fluidity of what they think solid.  The hope is that art will allow them to find math more pliable than absolute, science more provisional than solid, and the stability of a sentence’s structure only as steadfast as its ability to transport the reader while maintaining place.

There is nothing like sitting in front of a potter’s wheel, with a clump of clay, that will move ones reality of rigidity and structure to uncertainty and fluidity.  Centering clay on a spinning wheel is no easy task.  You can intellectually know how to center clay on a wheel, but when it comes to placing hand against clay on a spinning wheel, it becomes more about feeling than knowledge.  One has to let go and allow absolutes to flow before clay spins in harmony with the wheel.

This week Mr. Kent, the high school Art Instructor, helped youth try their hands at the wheel for the first time.  Soon it became apparent that when a student sat at the wheel and placed their hands to clay they became focused and engaged.  In one sense there were no successes, no one came away from their first sitting at the wheel with a cup or bowl, but then, when absolutes begin to flow failures sometimes turn to successes.  One youth had centered her clay, began shaping it, and soon she had something that was looking very cupish.  Then in a split second, something went wrong and the clay twisted.  She stopped the wheel, looked at her hollowed twisted clay, and said “Now that’s cool.”  Stability and absolutes are not always what they are cracked up to be.

An hour later, while others were working clay, some on the wheel others by hand, I glanced over and watched as the “Now that’s cool” student took a book out of her bag, leaned back, and began reading.  Sometimes when edges flow and absolutes become imagined, the stability of a turning page and a written word become essential, and we get more.

© David B. Bell 2012

Clay Vision

Brandon’s Monster

February 12, 2012
My Future

There are some things better left said by clay.  I learned this from Mr. Kent, our high school Art Instructor.  Clay dries as clay wants to dry depending on the environment you are working in.  In other words, it dries when it dries.  Probably a lesson for all of us, we control a lot less of Creation than we would like to think.  A great lesson for youth…work the clay, have a vision on where you’re going and what you want, but be free and flexible with the outcome.  You only have as much say concerning your creation as the world allows.  Listening to the voice of clay, or the voice of air, or the voice of humidity is a lesson for all of us?

© David B. Bell 2012

Delight of Conversation

January 28, 2012
My Future

Just a little over a week ago the Mount Adams School District honored My Future, Belinda, and David for community service and support.  This was a wonderful moment in the midst of a busy school district board meeting.

Just over a year ago, My Future began offering art and choir during after-school hours.  The numbers of students were small and have slowly grown since then.  My Future is not popping at the seams today but the slow growth has allowed for one important thing: conversation.  From the beginning, My Future has been about everyone doing art.  Adopting an idea from at least one cultures way of understanding the supper table where everyone sits down and eats together, so is the goal of My Future; everyone, youth and staff alike, participate in art and choir together—at the same.

Richness percolates up because sitting around a table for an hour or so, pulling a clay pot or decorating a mask, eventually leads to conversation.  Sometimes conversation is only between the youth, but then like a bump on a log, staff has a unique opportunity to hear what is happening in the community’s life.  Sometimes youth forget who is at the table and the conversation becomes very interesting.  However, most of the time, they are very aware who is at the table and conversation is all about what might get a rise out of staff.  It is engagement such as this that makes My Future enjoyable.  For being honored by the school board, by adult peers is very satisfying, but being in the conversation with our community’s youth is an opportunity of delight

© David B. Bell 2012

Sunflower Snow

January 23, 2012
JustLiving Farm

I walk by them every day.  Each spring we plant more sunflowers than we will ever harvest.  This isn’t so hard, a sunflower or two will produce all the seeds we’re going to eat for a year.  We plant the rest for birds to partake during late spring and early winter.  By now, they have figured out how to get the last seed out of the flower head.  So, I walk by those stems and flower heads that were so green and yellow last summer, each day, without thinking much about them.  Then the sun came out.  With sunlight touching the snow buildup on each head the sunflowers presented a beauty that comes after life has slipped away.

© David B. Bell 2012

Playing With Crayons Conceptualizing Art

January 16, 2012
My Future

I find it really cool when youth come up with something new, something I’ve been struggling to figure out, but haven’t.  Lately, during My Future afternoons we’ve been using crayons as an art medium.  We started gluing crayons onto poster-board and then used a blow-dryer to melt them.  Afterward melting, one would take a pen or sharpie and draw in image to fit the crayoned board.  Youth did this for awhile and then moved on to drawing first, then placed tape over the drawing, then melt crayons over the board and tape, and then remove tape for the final effect.

While the youth were working on finding new ways to use crayon’s I started playing with the idea of finding a way to attain texture that was both more concentrated and detailed.  After a few days of working with crayons and being very unsuccessful, I gave up.  Then a day or so later, I walked by the crayon/blow-drying area and there was Ms. K using the dryer to essentially paint with crayons.  There it was…just what I was looking for!  Working on a volcano, she was creating texture by building up layers of crayon!  Her lava became flowing and bold giving to it a feel that it was rolling down the board after it was dry.  Ms. K had taken the basic suggestions on how to use crayon and heat and conceptualized a new way of integrating it with her imagination.  Cool Stuff!

The first video speaks to how Ms. S took our suggestions and began using tape to integrate crayon and drawing.  The second video shows Ms. K using her crayon painting technique.

© David B. Bell 2012


January 8, 2012
JustLiving Farm
Yakama Mission

Epiphany.  There are no other days like the days of epiphany.  The Christian church holds today a bit more special than others—Jesus’ Baptism.  There are many others.  Hopefully each of us experiences epiphany, sooner or later, time and again.

One who speaks to epiphany well is Wendell Berry.  Below is a poem I had the good fortune to recently be turned on to is Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front found at In Context.

The photo is a mosaic of the “Baptism of Christ,” created in the mid-12th century. Found at the Cappella Palatina di PalermoI in Palermo, Italy.

Is possible exists between a modern writer and an artist of the 12th century?

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.