Friday, June 10, 2016

Not just another street artist, some 'New Literacy'

WHAT LIFTS YOU? And What the heck is digital story telling? 

Kelsey Montague may not be a household name, but one day she will grace the pages of art history books and may become one of the most famous female street mural artists, her ability to use 'new literacy' and art makes for the perfect combination of hope and perseverance. 

See for yourself first hand the creative works behind what I think will become a legend: as reading about it will not do it justice ( I am just not that great of a writer! YET ) Is this digital story telling? Before ILT5340, I wouldn't have thought so, but the more I read through Lankshear & Knobel (2007) Chapter 1: Sampling “the New” in New Literacy's, my perceptions of literacy has completely changed. I honestly thought that digital stories was exactly what I had done in the UCTE M.A program 5010. We created a digitized story about our learning via Imovie. That was what I knew and understood about digital stories. 

I only discovered Montague and her work this year, I was surfing through Pintrest (this was being very 21c for me, I did not have a twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Notey accounts prior to this class)looking for some ideas to balance a 3rd grade art project with a current, live artist. In my search, a project came up using scratch board, where students etched wings using various line qualities and symbols and then added a small black and white picture of them self. A great project that incorporated multiple disciplines and could easily be differentiated for the various skill levels. As I prepared the lesson, that is when I dug a little deeper and began to research and follow Montague's art work. It started with purchasing her first book, for a tangible visual in class, and then lead to following her work via Facebook and now Twitter and Instagram. A real live artist the the students could interact with, now this was the kind of teaching that I had dreamt of doing!

Looking closely at Montague's work, you will notice a web of intricately placed lines and symbols, and what my students noticed was that really it was all very simplistically drawn. From the first introduction video that we watched together, Montague's work inspired my students,  though her work is on a large scale, and we would be working much smaller,  this was something that they all believed that they could do. They quickly realized that it would take time, and that was the bonus all teachers look for, students realizing that it would not be a 'wham, bam, thank you mamm, I am done' sort of thing.

They were eager to start, we began by listing all the things that lift us, talking about symbols and symbolism and communication, followed by quality of line, doodling and zen tangling. Montague's work is a perfect platform for any age to talk about the positives and negatives of our now digital world. Her story is a perfect example for my students or anyone on perseverance. And as Montague often highlights the obvious fact that she a female in a sea of male artists, is yet another lesson in my room about social justice and equity. Throughout the project I became even more enamored with Montague's work, as I looked through her story with various lenses.

As an artist, her tenacity to drive on and not give up, to take her work to the public, and to use the technology today as a driving force to promote her work is inspiring to me. Her work is skilled, large and interactive, it changes the way that we think about art and the artist. I love as a female, she like our female predecessors ( see artist Kahlo, Nevelson, O'keeffe, Kruger or de St. Phalle) is not weary to step into a male driven arena, and speaks out about art being a male driven and recorded profession. Her work inspires on so many levels, and challenges perceptions art as a medium. Her mindset of technology and the digital world, to use the tools as a way for people relate, speak directly of the mindset that was mentioned in our reading this week.  I love that she focuses on the positive, something that seems hard to do in social commentary or public art these days, there are so many things to fight for. I love that her work at face value is not about her, but about the viewer.

From an educational standpoint her work offers a variety of learning experiences; in art; positive and negative space, line quality. As we viewed her works around the world students leaned about geography and cultures around the world, her work is also a demonstration of proportion if you want to go with adding a little math ( with older students, I would expect them to speculate the amount of paint markers a single mural might take given the expectation that each marker cover so many cubic inches). As mentioned above her work also invites multiple discussions of social justice and culture. ( Imagine if there were a set of wings in the Swat Valley, or Syria. ) I can't help but to want to re-do the assignment and add also the idea of digital story telling, based on the discourse theories of Lankshear & Knoble (2007), having the students work more on their retelling of the process and project rather than focusing solely on the final product.

Beyond my own admiration, her work fits perfectly in the INTE forum, here, Montague's work is a collection of digital stories, one by the artist and another as each person creates their own by taking a self portrait and becomes part of the work. Her use of digital media to fuel her success is a reflection of what can be done with social media as a  means of communication and hope. Her work has become literacy beyond words, what I believe Lankshear & Knobel (2007) are referring to as secondary discourse. As I continue to follow Montague, I am continuously now thinking of how effective her work really is, not only as an artist but as a digital storyteller. I think that my perceptions of Twitter and all of these digital sites has completley changed. I have been in contact with people all over the world in the past few days, sharing stories, not just what we had for breakfast. My ideas of this ever changing technology has change to one of Mindset 2 (Lankshear & Knobel, 2007), and I am left wornder what can I do to synthesize my work in art to correspond with the positive movement of technology rather than fighting it. 
Change Starts here....
check out more of Montague's work

Lankshear, C. (2007). Sampling the “New” in New Literacies. In M. Knobel (Ed.), (pp. 1-24). Accessed 10 June 2016.

Amy Poehler's Smart Girls

Kelsey Montague Art


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