30 January 2013

Peep Game: Poppin' Tags!

Today I did something strange . . . Two things actually (three, if you count that I did these things in Singapore).

1.  I voluntarily went shopping.
2.  I voluntarily tried on clothes inside a store.

On Sunday night, I emailed my friend Cheryl to see if she would go to a thrift store with me. See, I asked her to be a part of a challenge posted in a blog that I regularly follow:  Young House Love. Lots and lots of people follow this blog:  I am merely one in a billion. (You might remember me receiving a signed copy of their book for Christmas.)

This particular challenge caught my eye . . . I am an avid fan of hip hop and rap. And my newest crush is Macklemore (please reference my top videos of 2012 as proof). Young House Love asked viewers--blog readers, if you will--to take $20 to a thrift store, wear something referenced in the video, take pictures of self in said items, and purchase something interesting with the monies.

Sadly Singapore is not flush with thrift stores. At all. But oddly enough, amidst all of the malls and escalators, we were able to find one and it was close. As luck would have it, the Salvation Army Family Store is located right across the street from where we both teach.   

So after school, we got together and here's how it turned out.

Here's my $20. In Singapore dollars. Which means we actually spent $16.18 USD.

I brought Cheryl with me because she likes to shop (I do not). Cheryl teaches 4th grade, I teach art.

Here's the store, located right behind the Woodleigh bus and MRT station. It only says Family Store on the outside of the building. This can be deceiving as they do not--in fact--sell families. 

My goodness!! So many things were catching our eyes. But sadly nothing under $20.  

Check out those fly sneakers!  

Part of our challenge was to find actual images that represented some of the lyrics in the song. We played with this a little bit and got kinda creative . . . Like for this Hello Kitty we found stuffed in a corner:  "One man's trash, that's another man's come-up . . . " Look at poor Hello Kitty, trapped in that trash bag. (She can't breath, let her out!) 

And some of the images I just threw in this post because I liked them. Aaawww yeah, matching velvet Christmas vests and totally bejeweled denim pants!!

I actually kind of really wanted those pants. Maybe I will go back and get them. They had a real rockabilly flair to me. 

"I'm in this big ass coat . . . from that thrift shop down the road . . . " Cheryl got the close-up, I got my photo taken from further back because I had to include my "house slippers". I kept my real shoes on in this picture, just for kicks. 

"I look incredible . . . " (Seriously, how much more Grey Gardens could I possibly be?)  

"Dressed in all pink, 'cept my gator shoes, those are green . . . "

As for the purchase? Boxing gloves. Yes, boxing gloves. I went into the store searching for a nice little side table and came out with a pair of $20 boxing gloves. Holla!

Why? They remind me of the first gallery show I did in Nashville in 2011. It was a big show with two friends of mine, Allie Sultan (video) and Andee Rudloff (paintings). I created the installation element threading through the gallery, 8 miniature installations each focusing on a different social theme and resembling the image below. Now this new pair can hang next to one of the pairs from the show that I ended up bringing with me to Singapore.  

Thrift store shopping in Singapore proved to be a surprisingly quick and easy job. What a diverse assortment of goods we laid our eyes on! I'm curious what other people found. We'll find out on Friday! Can't wait!

29 January 2013

It's a Family Affair . . .

I carried a few branches home from work today. 

Yesterday morning as my co-workers and staff were shuffling into Stamford at 7:15am, I was outside in front of the school going through a pile of freshly cut branches. I have been trying to figure out what to do with my jewelry since moving to Singapore, and hanging everything on branches like a Christmas tree seemed particularly fitting to my taste. Especially since this past weekend, I actually kept my promise to myself of taking down my Christmas tree and I kind of miss it. How did the holidays come and go so quickly? #missingchristmas

Anyhow . . . As I was walking home from school with the branches, I started thinking about how I never really do crafty things. I mean I include crafty elements in my art pieces, but I consider that work. (A good kind of work, but work nonetheless.) I don't really make things just to be making things. Or at least I have stopped doing that in the past several years. I am always making something for something else: a show, a gift, a project for someone else, something

When I brought the branches home, I painted the tips orange. That was my big crafty moment, the extent of my creative energy: orange-tipped branches.

My sister--on the other hand--is a curious crafter, making something new almost every single day. I have always known this, but for some reason this past year she has really grown in her creative endeavors. Birthdays, holidays, gifts: she goes out of her way to create everything by hand, lovingly and with extreme care. I don't know how she does it with my two nephews running around . . . #supermom

Oh wait--they are crafting right alongside her . . . They have the absolute pleasure of not only growing up in a deliciously clever home, but they are also participating in creating their own environment and decorating their family's house. This not only encourages imagination, but helps them to realize their voice is considered and appreciated. What better environment in which to raise kids?

Perhaps that's why they feel so comfortable running around looking like this . . . 

Perhaps this type of environment has allowed Oliver to become the amazing artist that he's clearly blossoming into: full speed ahead, right before our eyes!!

Perhaps this is why Liam loves to begin making things to decorate the house for Christmas in early October--before he's even thought of his very own birthday (which falls on the 12th of that very month). Or why he's such an incredible dancer. He knows how to get down . . . 

Maybe it's why--when I handed the boys their dad's tablet--they began drawing on it instead of playing games. Not that playing games is bad, it's just a different instinct. (That's a portrait of me below. Spitting image, eh?)

Kerry lives in an apartment with her husband, the boys, two dogs, and a cross-eyed cat. While she has space for a makeshift studio, there isn't that much space. But that's just it: she makes things happen with what space (and materials) she does have because it's important to her and it creates a great lifely experience for the boys. #talentedsissypants #artrocks

She held Liam's birthday party in the apartment. She made a spooky haunted house decoration and a pin-the-eyes-on-the-monster game, above. She made the absolutely grossinating yellow/green glow-in-the-dark slime party favors, below. 

She also made not one but two wreathes for the season . . . 

And check out this quick bat outfit she made for Oliver's school assembly. This came together in a jiffy with help from our mom. (Our mother was the Queen Bee of craft in the 80's: we had a puffy paint sweatshirt for every occasion.)

Kerry and I have always loved Christmas, and it shows. When moving to Singapore with a limited amount of items to take, I chose my tree. My tree and my Patrick Swayze prayer candle. 

When Kerry and her family decorate for Christmas, they put up half a dozen trees of various sizes and textures. The largest one is green, the second largest one is white, and the others range in color--one being a bright pink tinsel, which is my absolute favorite.

She found the idea for this advent calendar on Pinterest, above. And she had at least 6 snowy jars filled with wintery scenes, below.

I thought the snowflakes, above, were super-cool! My nephews made them by dipping pipe cleaners in some crazy concoction that I never-quite-got-the-answer-to-what-it-was-when-I-asked. But the pipe cleaners crystalized: science + art. Win, win. 

The boys also helped make some quick cardboard feather wreathes with their next door neighbor, below.

They also turned plastic lids into ornaments. A fun way to recycle mismatched lids. 

Her house screams creativity . . . Just looking around, you could get lost in every bit of color and active space that surrounds you. There are images of the boys--at every stage of their lives--on every wall. And she is by far the greatest collector of my work that ever was . . . She has my very first clay works in her house, a partially finished skateboard that I made hanging in the entryway, and two giant wooden elephants I created for a fair in Austin hanging in the boys room. (If I actually listed everything, this post would be a mile long. She is absolutely my biggest fan, which I love!)  

I caught this little bit of hilarity below on our way out the door while I was visiting over the holidays. Nothing is without a rhinestone or ounce of crafty fun in her house! Honeywell 'stash.

Maybe we get our art/craft sensibilities from our mother (with Liam after his dance recital above left). Or maybe we get them from our toothy father (above right). 

My personal belief? We were blessed creatively by them both. As much as they like to play like they had nothing to do with the way we are, they had everything to do with it. We are very fortunate to have such humorous, candid parents (um, see image below). Our creativity stems from their reactions to everything they encountered during our lives growing up, as they raised us. #family

They are funny, funny people. And we are lucky, lucky girls. Craft on.

24 January 2013

Everything Is New!

A friend of mine stopped me in the hallway today to see what I was up to for the weekend. Invariably our conversation shifted towards our students. We were discussing one student in particular when she said something that hit me sideways: kids don't know any different, everything is normal to them because everything is new to them. She then relayed a story to me about when she needed glasses for the first time. She didn't know things weren't supposed to be blurry because that's all she had ever known. (I got glasses when I was 2, so I couldn't really relate. Having glasses is all I've ever known.) #hpdayjob

Everything is new. Right.

I forget this sometimes. Scratch that. I forget this a lot of the time . . .  

It's all exciting and fresh and shiny-new! Sometimes it's hard to remember this when 24 students are talking at top volume, banging on tables, and clanging around metal chairs. And this is happening repeatedly, all day long.

This week was a good week, but a hard week. So for me to hear the above statement was really important. (It's true what they say: you always hear what you need to hear, when you need to hear it.)  

Report cards for semester 1 were due on Wednesday and semester 2 begins on Friday. I was given 2 new classes this week: a 2nd grade class and a 3rd grade class. Both bring my 2nd and 3rd grade class load up to 6 classes for each grade level. With the 2 new classes, I am now teaching 16 80-minute classes per week. #reportcards #teachingart  

Last week, I had a substitute because I was in Australia. So this week, all of the kids kept hugging me and telling me how much they missed me. It was hilarious because I was only gone for one week. But they acted like I had been gone for months! Oh Ms. Bailey, I'm so glad you are back! Thank goodness you're here this week! Where were you: we missed you!!! #australia

I teach two co-curricular classes (CCA) per week, hour-long after school sessions in whatever I choose. On Mondays I teach Parade Art. (We are planning a big campus parade for the second to last week of school: more on that soon!) On Thursdays I teach a general arts CCA. Today--Thursday--my students in general arts said that last week they sang a song to the substitute teacher about me because they missed me so much. The song was called Moods Like Bailey, and sung to the tune of Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5. They claimed that this song was about how my mood changes with the behavior of the students: when they are good, I'm happy; when they are bad, I'm not happy. Makes sense right? 4th grade boys. They threatened to make a video of their song and put it on YouTube. I told them I would see their YouTube upload and raise them a Vimeo upload. I may be getting myself into trouble here . . . They DO have iPads and could easily accomplish this. #moveslikejagger #nowplaying 

After singing a verse from the song for me, one of the boys said that it was SUCH A RELIEF to have an art teacher with an interesting personality who gets things and that I was the best art teacher in the whole world. I'm not sure what any of that means, but I'll take it.

Due to my class load, after this week I have to close my classroom during lunch. My lunch period is now my only planning period. The students were pretty miffed at me. One response was: you were nicer last semester than you are this semester. Um, okay. Except the second semester doesn't really start until Friday.  

Teaching is like the millions of escalators I've taken since moving here. Up, down, up, down. Today I was so tired when I started home. I kept thinking, I just want to sleep for 10 days straight. Just sleep. And then, as I got off of the escalator at my train station, out of the corner of my eye was one of my 3rd grade students standing there in a coral dress, glowing and yelling, "Hi Ms. Bailey! Hi, hi, hi!!" Like me, she was surprised and excited to see me at our mutual home train station. That's when it hit me: they like me, they really like me . . .  #singapore #quote

I just have to remember: everything is new. 

(I wouldn't want any other job in the whole wide world.)

21 January 2013

Australia: Making The PYP Happen, The Role of The Arts.

"The arts were the first and remain the primary forms of human communication--how we understand each other and look inward to understand ourselves. They give voice to ideas and feelings in ways no other communication vehicle can, because they are driven by emotions and passions. The arts engage intellect, heart, and body. They are unique means of knowing, thinking, and feeling based in imagination and cognition." #claudiacornett #meaningmakers

Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Adelaide, Australia for a conference. Stamford American International School is part of the International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific. Throughout the year, this organization facilitates conferences where teachers and administrators can collaborate and learn better their craft, be it management or teaching. As part of this conference, I was enrolled in The Role of The Arts in The Primary Youth Programme (PYP) workshop. This workshop's main purpose was to allow teachers from all over Southeast Asia and Australia to work with each other while exploring the scope, purpose and meaningful integration of arts in the PYP.

I am new to PYP. I am also new to Southeast Asia, Australia, and traveling by plane every two seconds. Luckily I am a very adaptable person. I wouldn't say that I'm all that prepared to be traveling on a weekly basis, especially right after being in the United States for 3 weeks. But traveling every once in a while? To study the arts and collaborative teaching methods? I'm in. I love all of it! This is such an exciting experience for me. My school offered to send me to Australia . . . AUSTRALIA!

My 3-day workshop was being taught by Theo Mandziy, an extraordinary 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade art teacher after my own heart. He works with students by connecting their projects to contemporary artists, sometimes inviting the artist into the classroom. Big projects like soccer field-sized murals, Post-it note installations, and large fabric collage stuffed blocks. The images of these projects were incredible. And the way he spoke about teaching and collaboration I found extremely inspiring. "Your projects need to be authentic." He's based in Singapore, which is fabulous! I've already spoken to him about visiting his classroom and observing his teaching. #theomandziy #amazingartteachers #pyp

"The arts are not pretty bulletin boards. They are not turkeys and bunny rabbits. They are not frivolous entertainment. The arts are our humanity. They are the languages of civilization through which we express our fears, our anxieties, our hungers, our struggles, our hopes. They are systems of meaning that have real utility. This is why schools that provide students with the means and the encouragement to explore these realms provide a better education. This explains, too, why the arts are a mark of excellence in schooling."

We studied two articles during the course, The Arts as Meaning Makers by Claudia Cornett and Strong Arts, Strong Schools by Charles Fowler. We also slogged--I use this term lovingly--through a 75-page workbook and created two new unit plans. We put the work back in workshop and it felt great to be surrounded by others in my field, all of us striving towards a common goal and passionate about our life's work.  I was extremely energized by the conference and couldn't think of much else once I got back to the hotel

As a result, I didn't get a chance to do much running around Adelaide. I was busily preparing for Handmade Movement on Saturday: I turned my hotel room into a studio and watched far too many reruns of Friends. (Australian television sort of reminded me of the 90's. Although there was a huge amount of attention focused on a certain cyclist. I won't name any names, but his first name rhymes with prance and begins with an L.) 


What I did notice every morning as I walked to the conference, is how strikingly similar Adelaide was to Austin. The air was hot and dry, the people were super friendly, and the parks were abundant and green. People were riding bikes and jogging at all hours of the day. The city was busily preparing for a bike race--of all things--and blocking off streets and putting up tents. And there seemed to be something arts-related on every corner.

As always, I was thoroughly impressed with the complimentary breakfast provided by the hotel. While I didn't get any images of my full breakfasts, I did take several pictures of my eggs. The eggs I had on my 2nd-day-stay were so fluffy, like little white poofs! And on my third and last day there, I splurged and ordered eggs benedict. A plethora of fresh juices were offered, there was even a DIY juicer there you could load yourself with whatever fruits and vegetables were provided and cut for use. Breads, pastries, yogurt. Bacon, potatoes, and chicken sausage. Yes, please. I'll have one of everything. Anyone else this obsessed with complimentary breakfasts? What's been your favorite? #crowneplaza #adelaidesa

As far as Adelaide is concerned . . . I'll be back. For sure. Apparently they have the second largest FRINGE festival in the world, second only to Edinburgh. The plan? Apply for it with Buoyant Echo. Let's see what happens!