Digital Collage and Animation
The Athenian School, Danville, CA
Stacey Goodman teaches grade 9-12 visual art. This project, completed in Spring 2010, was inspired by the William Kentridge: Five Themes exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, on view in 2009. In addition to being a visual art teacher, Stacey started the blog Participation Art as a space to generate opinion and debate among K-12 educators and students about making art today and the contemporary art world.
As the culmination of a yearlong digital art class for students in grades 10-12, I designed a project centered around a class trip to the William Kentridge: Five Themes exhibition at SFMoMA. Although the curriculum for this class did not include drawing, which is so central to Kentridge’s work, I was interested in how he incorporates both personal and social history, self-portraiture, and landscape into his work. These themes served as an excellent way for students to extend beyond the personal narrative of adolescence into a larger and more adult perspective of the world.
Kentridge’s multidisciplinary approach to art served as a great example of how images are represented in more than one medium. The project required that students create a series of digital collages. One collage presented an image from contemporary history such as the events of September 11. The second collage presented a historical moment that affected a family member or ancestor. In much the same way that Kentridge portrays himself as his alter ego Soho Eckstein witnessing South African history, the students were required to include a portrait of themselves, either as witness or participant, in each of these collages. Through the project, one student discovered that her relatives in Korea were divided by the war. Another student shared her grandmother’s story of hiding in the Underground during the blitzkrieg over London.
There were a couple of students in the class who were very involved with the robotics program in our school. Kentridge’s work with robotics in his Black Box theatre pieces proved to be a great asset, showing how the mechanical and technical can be employed towards creative ends.
After the students carefully composed their collages in Photoshop and printed them, they animated the images using Premiere and Flash. These animations, along with the soundtrack that the students added, were projected onto a wall along with the prints in a special exhibition that we installed in a conference room on campus. This Kentridge project was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve done with students.