Sunday, July 8, 2012

Teaching Papercutting at Camp Newman, 2012 (Part 1)

Every summer I spend two weeks at Camp Newman teaching papercutting to high school-age campers. They're in "Hagigah," a four-week session devoted to Judaism and the arts. The campers choose from a variety of "majors" (two hours a day) and "minors" (one hour a day) that either last two weeks or four weeks, getting to sample painting, drama, creative writing, dance, sculpture, and other art forms. Including, of course, papercutting.

 These two weeks are probably the hardest I work all year. For the other 50 weeks, I've got my job and my family and my papercutting (not necessarily in that order) and they keep me occupied and happy. And busy, for sure. But I think I'm good at all three, whereas teaching? Tenth graders? That's something that takes a lot out of me.

It's worth it. I get a real sense of accomplishment from seeing what the campers are capable of — kids who start out unsure about their talent, uneasy with the tools, and unconvinced they can make anything worth hanging in the end-of-session festival. They learn quickly that they are capable of making wonderful works of art, and are proud to show their friends what they've done — dragging in other campers to say, "look what I made!"

The first project we work on is a mizrach — an ornamental wall plaque used to indicate the direction of prayer (east) in Jewish homes. We make mizrachs in both the yetzirah (major) and the hizdamnut (minor) groups. We start off by brainstorming ideas for imagery and structure, and then the campers apply their developing cutting skills to making their individual project. For the backgrounds we used colored papers and bits and pieces of comic books, provided gratis by the wonderful folks at Brave New World Comics.

I'll be posting a "part 2" later this week with details about the "big" project — paper midrash.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the post and the artwork. I also loved being part of the faculty mezuzah project - my first time paper cutting. Thanks.