Our days are filled with so many to do list items that we rarely get to take the time we want to take to give back. It is always so rewarding and genuinely uplifting, you would think it would be easier to make happen than it is. Well, Ann Elliott Cutting made the time and was rewarded handsomely for it. She spent the week as an Artist in Residence at her alma mater, Westridge School. When I asked her what the experience was like, here is what she shared:
“It was a whirlwind of a week but well worth it. The days were non stop and the energy always positive. I was so impressed with how organized the school was about the process. I enjoyed joking that I learned more from them that they learned from me!
They kicked off the program with a lecture for the school (grades 4-12) and then followed up each day with a class for me to co-teaching in art and photography. Some of the more advanced classes had two 80 minute sessions during the week which allowed us to concept a project during the first meeting and then have a class shoot for the second meeting. It was all very fun.
I worked with all ages of students. The younger students made photograms with sun prints (Cyanotypes developed in water) and shot outside in groups creating letters and numbers with leaves, twigs, shadows, their bodies, or anything they could find on campus. The more advanced students used large format 4×5 cameras for the first time. (We supplied Fuji instant film so they could see their images right away.) One class painted with light and lasers in a dark set with long exposures. Another class used text with imagery. They took quotes from letters, songs, poems, or operas and created an image to illustrate the idea, or to tell a bit more of the story behind the text. The week ended with a show of the student’s work.
It was a whirlwind of a week. Collaborating with the faculty was wonderful. The students were clever, engaged and good problem solvers. The ideas evolved quickly into images with content and intrigue. Working in teams allowed them to brainstorm and grow their ideas into something visual and “photographic”. I was impressed and inspired by how quickly they could make good creative decisions about content as well as lighting and composition. Some students already had a “style” and gravitated towards a certain color scheme or lighting style.
This week made we want to play and explore again. Seeing my craft through the eyes of children eager to learn and not contained by the boundaries of every day life was powerful. I started the week thinking that I would help inspire others but I ended the week being more inspired than ever myself. For that I am much appreciative.”