Tag Archives: Art

No Budget

Hello friends and strangers and readers of all sorts. it has been a while, so I feel a more gentle start is in order. It’s Sunday night and the sky just went from cotton candy, to dolphin belly,  to slate. I am feeling….how about a full stop. I am feeling. Weeks have passed since I allowed myself the luxury of tussling with words, and so tonight, feeling at best a tinge of flirtation, but really a more lingering weariness and fatigue, I have decided to take a break and carve a chunk of time from the ongoing present and future to speak to (with) you.

I had a strange morning. One of those days when the randomness of sharing and the thrill of living open and honest online collide, leaving tasty treats in their wake. Fun nuggets of camaraderie and inspiration- reassurance that when we share our thoughts and lives and passions with the world, the world will often talk back, returning our ideas and work back in a myriad of songs and echoes.

It started with this email:

Hi Jabiz,

My name is Adriana and I’m an artist.  I long time ago I found in one of your blogs this picture I loved.
and it spired me to make a series of paintings in my Pop Surrealism Style. here’s a link to my website so you can see the pictures I have of it.
The other paintings aren’t up yet.. too much work to do still but I wanted to share it with you and if you want I could link it to the page where the picture is.

That’s it for the moment and thank you for sharing all those beautiful pic!

Does this exchange mean anything? Is it important? I don’t know. Who am I to say, but it does feel right. Something about looking to the world to find inspiration, to make those human artistic connections resonates with me. More importantly, giving of my life in a way that might connect to other passions matters to me.

So many people are terrified of posting and sharing and over doing it, but time after time- for me at least- cool things happen. You can check out Adriana’s website here and the picture from above here. I am looking forward to exploring more of her work and hopefully getting to know her a bit more online. I have already asked if I can buy that print.

The second story, which also happened this morning, which is not usual is as follows:


I just came across your image of the Azadi Freedom stencil on FB and would like permission to use it in a book I am finishing up on street art.

My name is KET and I am an author and graffiti writer. I have been writing books on graffiti, street art, and tattoos and publishing magazines for over 15 years. My books include: Graffiti Planet, Rocking It Suckers, Street Art, Graffiti Tattoo, New York City Blackbook Masters and many more (link here)

I appreciate what you did and would like to include the image and a quote in the book.

Please let me know if you are interested. There is no budget just my desire to share the image to the world thru the book.

There is no budget, just my desire to share. I love it. You can read more about that photo here. It is great to see that project move onto its next incarnation and live in a book. After years of living online and sharing my life with the Internet, I am more often than not pleasantly surprised by what comes back to me. There were but just two examples from this morning.

What do you think? Do things like this happened to you? Am I too naive? Too trusting? Or is this the karmic state of global art we should be striving for?



Friday night. Been a long week: a good week. Getting to know new students. Learning names. Exploring personalities, understanding needs, finding doors. Already talking familiar ideas in class: writing, music, art, identity, expression. Sharing. Finding our groove. Re-framing pedagogies, conscious to include words like inspire and empower. Trying new things, thanks to my new colleague and old friend Paula G. Hands down! Speak, share, inquire, discuss. Write. Create. The goals this year are simple:

  • Connect on some level with every student all 100+
  • Enlighten student thought through lens of  Yugen, and if possible capture snippets of yugen through all we create.



Giddy Enthusiasm

Sometimes things are happening in your class that keep you excited at all hours of the day. You see kids fully engaged during class time, and BIG AND- they are participating in an ongoing month long project outside of class as well. You watch as pieces of this project come trickling in at all ours of the night, on weekends, during other classes. You know you are not meddling and teaching too much; you can feel your scaffold strengthening as the students produce content that exceeds what you thought they were capable of.

I am engulfed in such a unit! It is wonderful. It has little to do with tech really, but the tech knowledge, skills and tools we have in place are making everything run smoothly. When people ask me how I use technology in my classroom, I am always a bit stumped. I use it the same way I do in my everyday life- to gather, create, share, capture life around me with a community of people.

In grades six, seven and ten we are in the middle of a viewing text unit. Grade six is watching How To Train Your Dragon, grade seven is watching E.T. and grade ten is watching The Wall. We began by discussing the idea of reading a film.  After deconstructing each respective film, we looked at various types of shots. Last week we moved onto looking at scenes as shots and students have begun to create their own 8-12 minute films.

It was at this point when I realized that we needed a quick detour into photography. I wanted the kids to realize the similarities between basic photography concepts and film making. After a quick lesson on how to take Great Shots, we began our Daily Shoot! This experience is what has me so excited. Over the weekend I was in Hong Kong for a conference, but I was thrilled to see at least 80% of my students participating in the exercise. They would go to this page, find the prompt, take their pic and post (with tags and titles) to their appropriate page.

Some highlights:

I am hoping that they will see that shots like these will make great openings to their video scenes. We have already discussed music and camera movement to heighten suspense and creating mood.

The Posterous gallery has been great as it teaches them how to sort and tag their pics, and it allows everyone to see what everyone else is doing.

Giddy is the best word to describe how I feel about this unit so far. Giddy and proud and excited and …..well seems like there are many words. But, what does the tech look like? How can I teach other teachers to do this? Not sure. We are using iMovie, Keynote, Posterous, cameras, blogs. We are filming, shootings, tagging, writing, drawing. It is hard to know where the tech starts or stops. It is hard to know if this is Art, English, or Film. We are simply caught up in a storm of creating. Unaware of where we will end up, we use whatever tools we need, we learn skills as they become necessary and hopefully we will have some pretty amazing films to share, but if not…if the films are only mediocre, we already know we have learned so much. And that is all that really counts.


Stain What You Find

Last time I did this, some amazing things occurred. It was January 31st, 2011 and I had just finished my first 31 days of a 365 Daily Shoot- an exercise where you try to take a photograph everyday for a year.  I was following “assignments” from The Daily Shoot (a now defunct website) and was quite pleased with my pics. I shared a quick post on my blog about the fact that I had finished my first month.

A few days later, Zac Chase told me that he had shared my pics with one of his English classes. The next week resulted in a somersault of poetry and music across continents. You can read about the events here and here. If you didn’t read about this story last year, I recommend you take a few minutes and read through the posts and comments.  It was a truly inspirational week of cool free flowing organic events.

Which brings me to this post. January 31st! Last time I only made it 94 days and lost the thread. I was working with a DSLR l and now I am almost strictly working on my iPhone. I have sworn that this year will be different. I will do my best to make it all 365…sorry 366 days of 2012.

Take a look at the shots and meet me on the other side for a little reflection on the process of daily photography in general and this batch in particular.

Is it obvious that is has been raining here in Jakarta. The images do not lie. It has been grey and wet this January. But as you can see the days are highlighted with color and light as well. Once more, I am in love with this batch of photos. I wish I had time to take a few of the photos and expand them into a more auditory experience. I invite you to take these photos and add your meaning and experience to them, as Zac’s class did last year. Let’s see if anything comes of them this time around.

The Process:

We do not tell stories through images. The images tell our stories on their own. When collected and batched and examined,  we can see patterns and narratives of our lives which we usually pass us by when we are busy with the act of actually living.  By documenting at least one photograph everyday, we can look back and notice the thread of who we were by what we saw and what we chose to capture.

In addition to the dissection of our lives after the fact, taking a daily photograph has helped me look more closely at my life as I am living it. Take today for example. It was nearly 3:00 pm and I realized that I hadn’t looked closely enough at my day as it was passing me by. I took a break from rubric writing and forced myself out into our campus. I strolled about simply looking. Examining and looking for something interesting, something beautiful to capture. Here is what I found:

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Intrepid Flame

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Intrepid Flame

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Intrepid Flame

I was thinking about starting some kind of daily photo assignment with my students. I think they will find value in being able to document their lives in Flickr sets. They will appreciate the downtime to wander around campus learning how to “look” at the world. Need to think more about this. Any ideas? What to do something collaborative?

If you are not trying a dailyshoot I highly recommend giving it a try. I thought that not having the structure of The Daily Shoot would prove challenging, but I am enjoying he freedom to snap at will and sort through what I have for the pic at the end of the day. In other news, I have been trying to keep an eye on The Daily Create over at DS106.

Creativity is not some romantic magical muse that only a few people can access. Creativity is the ability to fully immerse yourself in the essence of life and stain what you find with pieces of your self. The only thing you need to do to be creative is to be alive. Open yourself up to experimentation and see what happens. It may feel silly or not important, but only when you say yes can to every shot will you find the spark you need.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Intrepid Flame


Interested In Us

I can’t believe we have only been in school for a week. I often feel like a tornado, who touches down occasionally to stir up some dust, only to take flight again. Lost in the clouds, in an adrenaline infused buzz that is nothing if not invigorating.

image by RaGardner4

I am shuffling several To-Do list at the moment. This from a guy who has always mentally calculated his tasks. I will not bore you with the litany of items populating said lists, but I will briefly mention that the only thing that is calming me down is the current loud guitar in my headphones and the ease with which I am writing these words.

Let’s do some stream of consciousness and see where we end up: Rolling out this blogging platform is great, exciting, perfect. Tedious, painful, time consuming. It is one thing to be given a blog and told to sell it to kids, but it is another to create a system-wide platform from scratch. Dealing with back-end issues, teachers doing too much, others not doing enough is proving to be exhausting. I have never been a type-A systems guy. I can do ideas. Give me design and inspiration, artistic management and I will deliver, but organization? Action plans? Timetables have never been my forte.

I am learning. I am stretching. I am growing. I love it. Everyday is another set of problems that I am somehow instrumental in solving (Or am I creating them?) Honestly, I haven’t felt this jazzed and energetic about a project in years. I have already mentioned the stress and the problems, but that is not where I want to dwell. Simply put, I am dealing with a massive year long roll out that I am trying to get out the door the first month back to school. Simple solution: Slow down. Breathe. It will get done. Look back at what has already been done and take pride in that. Is my oft forgotten mantra.

In addition to all the tech-coach stuff, there is of course my classes this year. Grade 6 Language B, a grade 7 Language A, and a grade 10 Language A class. I have met with them all at least once, and I have decided to start the year by focusing on two main ideas: Community and self as writer/artist.

I am emphasizing that English class need not be a den of grammar death and academic boredom. It is not all spelling tests and essays. We have been talking about what makes community: shared goals, trust, honesty, communication, love (at least respect), connections. I have brainstormed community with all my classes and they have all come up with basically the same things. Apparently identifying components of  a community is much easier that creating one. We have discussed the value of building a safe place built on trust to help foster creativity and expression.

Which brings me to the second big idea for the year: What does it mean to use writing as a tool for expression? I am a firm believer that people who do not understand the power of writing will never be great writers. I want to create writers in my class. I am not interested in students who can write an essay or pass an IB exam. I want to create artists. My thinking, obviously, is that once you tap into a persons creative core, the rest will follow. Anyone who understand writing, can jump through the hoops, but it is difficult to do it the other way around.

We have spoken about the tender fragility of our creativity and imaginations. We have thought about how most adults we know don’t actually write. Create art. Take photographs. Get silly. Open up and play. The consensus was that there aren’t too many of these adults in their lives. They have few artistic role models. I made a promise to help them see that we exist. That there are people who write books for the fun of it. People who juggle several art projects at a time because it feeds their soul. We  also discussed the fact that once you allow your creativity to wane, worrying about grades and school,  jobs and bills and life, that it is difficult to bring an imagination  back to life.

Yeah, the tech stuff is stressful. Yes, I am also now also thinking about my cohort in Shanghai, but I am smart enough to know, that it is in my classroom  having conversations with kids that I feel the most alive. Want proof? A fellow teacher’s daughter is in my grade 10 class. I just received the following email:


just thought i’d let you know what ________ told me about her first English class today….. and i quote…..”he’s amazing! You can just tell that he really loves teaching and he was actually interested in us”She came home really excited about learning and spent time telling me about the class. A good start to the year!!

So thanks!

And really, is there nothing else that matters more than a student realizing that after one meeting?