In what seems like a lifetime ago, or more appropriately, in a previous incarnation, my chosen role of class teacher to a very mixed group of young people with learning needs put me in my element. An element I had spent years training for and thinking about, trying all sorts of media; trying very hard, and failing, to understand the spiritual task of curative education.
The Waldorf School Curriculum calls for the grade 11 students to study the history of art, my class responded well to hands on experience rather than theory. Therefore it only seemed natural to begin at the beginning and to do some prehistoric cave painting, a theme that could be expanded to take in Native American art, very appropriate to rural Pennsylvania where the school was situated.
We walked the woods and gathered plants and berries to make our own paints also finding coloured clays and stones that would grind and mix into further paint and media. We even made our own brushes.
There was no cave on the campus, but as it was a 200 year old farmstead, it had an old abandoned ice house.
As well as copying the classic animal images from the famous French paintings, we made our own pictures of horses and people who lived in the community.
With fear of sounding at all boastful, this experience was the best artistic experience of my life (and I’ve had many).
All the elements I see as worthwhile in creative activity came together to make it an all round discovery for the class the helpers and everyone in Beaver Run School who came to see the work.
The only disappointment was that the ice house wasn’t as big as the French caves, it would have been good to paint for many days, but we ran out of space!
I really hope it is still there.
It was 24 years ago now.
Maybe it’ll last for millenia?