2.16.2011

I heart Tom Otterness.

This morning my class took a trip to Tom Otterness's studio in Brooklyn. The kids were in awe as they stepped into the brightly lit studio and saw the artist's work surrounding them. Everywhere they turned, they saw inspiration boards, photographs, sketches, notes, sculptures, and molds. The studio itself was wonderful. The whole space felt so purposeful and worked in; cups of tea sat on tables, take out menus were laying near models, Nora Jones played quietly in the background, and pictures hung on the walls.
Children quietly whispers, Look, there he is. That's him! as Tom walked around the studio talking to them and answering questions.  And let's be serious, the teachers were whispering too. He was kind of like a celebrity. After learning about his work and going on a Tom Otterness scavenger hunt in the subway last week, it was really exciting to get to meet and talk to the man behind the Life Underground art installation.
After we arrived, we handed out sketchbooks and gave the kids time to wander and sketch their favorite pieces from around the studio. It was magical to watch the kids eyes light up as they discovered clay figures and bronze statues tucked away in corners or on models.
After we had time to sketch, we gathered around the blue prints and model for the most amazing playground structure and heard about the process of designing and building it. After learning about how the playground came to life, we realized we just have to go there! Last minute permission slips were sent home today so we can venture into Manhattan on Friday to play in the 60 degree weather.
The kids had the most thoughtful and inquisitive questions and all were answered beautifully by Tom. He is such an amazing person and artist, and was so kind and welcoming in his studio. What I loved most was how much he talked about the process of creating a piece of art. It was wonderful for my 24 little artists to know that the process is just as important as the final product.

After many questions were answered, we shifted to the other side of the studio and watched Tom sculpt a clay lion that he was working on for a private commission. A-MAZ-ING. From there we went into another room and learned about the molds that are used to create the pieces. We saw a mold for another lion piece, and got to touch all of the materials that are used. We also met some of the other artists on his team.
All in all, it was a wonderful day with my second graders. They will forever remember this experience, and will probably always think about it as they see Tom's work around the city. As will Brianne and I. Thank you Tom Otterness for such a fun, educational, and inspiring day!



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