Archive for July, 2010

Share #2: Ears that hear

Posted 30 Jul 2010 — by Jennifer
Category shares

This summer I have had the luxury of a few weeks away from work and children. I have been filling my days with taking hikes, swimming, improving my fly fishing, making things, reading, and listening. A Washington Post article alerted me to NPR Music and since then I have been discovering new songs, new artists, new sounds! I love getting the Song of the Day emailed to me-and whether I like the song or not, it widens my musical repertoire.  I also think Tiny Desk Concerts is brilliant (check out the Jimmy Cliff concert,  I often cry when I hear this set). Watching musicians play and perform in such an intimate, uncomfortable setting brings a certain kind of life to the music.

So why post this on In Dialogue, a blog about education? Music, art, science, dance, math, and so on ..these are the languages of life. When we stop seeking them out and learning about them, we stop living.

Share #1: fossils

Posted 27 Jul 2010 — by Jennifer
Category shares

I love looking at things and sharing what I’ve encountered with people. I also think it is important to keep looking, to make a habit of seeking out and discovering ‘things.’ In particular, as an atelierista or studio teacher, it is critical that I look at art, and at the world. Please post your discoveries! In Fiberarts magazine I saw this beautiful quilt by Diane Savona:

Diane Savona, Domestic Markings #3

Here is a detail from another work.

This reminds me of one aspect of a larger project done this year at St. John’s Episcopal Preschool Washington, D.C., in the Tucker Room connected to a classroom intention of sense of place. After months investigating O Street, the street just outside of the school, children made impressions in clay of key elements of the street to record memories and to have a physical reminder inside the classroom of the place they became so familiar with over the months of research.

St. John's Episcopal Preschool, Tucker Room 2010, Clay Impressions of O Street

These are the trolley tracks just outside of the school on O Street. I love the way the old bricks are partially buried under the asphalt, this reminds me of an archeological dig.

All of which influences my own work, below is “Fingerprints: Front Porch May 2010,” an inventory of everything on my front porch recorded on a single day/time:

Jennifer Azzariti

Eyes that see

Posted 26 Jul 2010 — by Jennifer
Category observation

It is taking me some time to figure out what this blog will be about and I assume the focus will evolve and change over time. I originally thought of using a blog as a way for people to find me, and to know more about the work that I do as an educator. But as I consider what I want to post here I can’t separate what I do at work with what I do in life, with what inspires me, with what I am thinking and talking about with others. So instead of procrastinating and not posting anything because I can’t figure out how to make sense of everything, I am going to begin…

The other day my good friend Emily–check out her blog about Thedford House, an assisted living home for people with dementia–suggested I watch Herb and Dorothy, a film about the Vogels, an unassuming couple (Herb was a postal worker, Dorothy a librarian) who amassed one of the most important collections of Mimimalist and Conceptual art. I love this drawing by Will Barnet, Study for the Vogels (Herb with hands on chin):

Study for the Vogels (Herb with hands on chin)

The artists, curators and friends interviewed for this film talk about the Vogel’s keen powers of observation–

Richard Tuttle: “Then you meet someone like Herb and Dorothy who have eyes that see…”

Will Barnet: ” The thing that’s very important is the fact that they had what I call an aesthetic eye.”

and Will Barnet again, commenting on the above drawing: “…he saw something and he got very excited and ran towards the painting and I thought of it when I made my drawings, how he moved, not the fact that he was just looking but he was looking very intensely and he was leaning over and he was bent…”

I wonder if, or more honestly I doubt that schools today (or historically, for that matter) consider the aesthetic eye an important element in the education of children. Beginning with the often offensive physical environments of schools, to the lack of room for subjectivity in curriculum, the action of seeing and a deep respect (and time) for observation is sorely missing. The aesthetic eye is sometimes innate, and sometimes needs cultivating-I recall a passage in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma where he talks about going morel hunting with a mycologist friend. For some time he could not find any morels, until his friend pointed them out–showed him how to notice them. Then Pollan saw morels everywhere.

Is cultivating “eyes that see” important to our society? Is the development of an aesthetic sense on par with learning algebra or writing a good book report? I believe strongly that it is and as Vea Vecchi, former atelierista at Diana School in Reggio Emilia has said, “beauty is essential for life.”

To see more of the Vogel collection go to: