Scans + Transmissions: A Collaborative Student Art Project was created by two classes of grade 5 and 6 students from Rose Avenue Public School and Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School in Toronto, from April 4 and May 2, 2016. The intention of the project was for students from the two schools to share and exchange cultural explorations and interpretations in dialogue through the arts. This is the second consecutive year that the two schools have participated together in a program at the Koffler.
Inspired by the Koffler Gallery’s Spring 2016 exhibition Raymond Boisjoly: Over a distance between one and many – which addressed discourses surrounding Indigenous art practices – students participated in workshops over a four week period. Throughout the process, they explored concepts of cultural transformation, ritual and tradition through a contemporary lens, the importance of diverse voices, self-expression, and cultural and narrative appropriation. The program was also created for students to explore the artistic relationship between images, text, objects and stories.
Students participating in an activity at SKETCH Studios
During the first of a series of three workshops that Koffler Staff conducted in both classrooms, students were invited to engage with Over a distance Between One and Many and to consider the significance of re-appropriating histories through creative art practices, a theme that is prevalent in Boisjoly’s work.
Students were also asked to bring an object to the first workshop that was significant to them and share it in a discussion with the rest of the class. Just as Boisjoly used a flatbed scanner to capture and distort the images featured in his exhibition, students’ objects were scanned in colour; the scanned images were then used to inform their discussion during the workshops.
A scanned image from a student at Paul Penna
A scanned image from a student at Rose Ave.
During the second in the series of in-class workshops, students received the scanned images from the other class. Students were then asked to unpack their assumptions about the particular image and to write a haiku poem about what they thought the image might represent. They were also asked to respond via haiku to their own scanned images.
In the third and final workshop, students engaged in a process inspired by Boisjoly’s method of selection for the text that is adhered overtop each image in the installation. Students were asked to re-write their haiku into a grid of squares with no spaces and then were encouraged to select two or three words that they interpreted as best representing their object.
A student’s haiku
On Monday May 2, 2016, students and teachers from Rose Avenue and Paul Penna finally met in person to celebrate and discuss their participation in the Scans + Transmissions project and to complete their works that would be installed outside Artscape Youngplace.
Students in the gallery learning about Raymond Boisjoly’s Over a Distance Between One and Many
After playing in Trinity Bellwoods Park, students were invited to SKETCH Studios to present their final image to the rest of the group. To distort the original scanned images even more, Koffler Staff inverted the images to black and white, creating negatives from positives. The images were then mounted onto separate wooden panels in a grid formation for final installation.
Students sharing the significance of their images with the group
Students shared the personal significance of their images, while those who wrote about the same object shared their initial assumptions, observations and insights. After presentations, students participated in creatively annotating their own image with one or two of the words selected from the haikus they had written.
Students annotating their images
The panels were then displayed outside of Artscape Youngplace as a public installation. Koffler Staff will also be creating a book as an archive of the project, and for students to keep.
Students and teachers from Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School and Rose Avenue Public School