Tag Archives: street art

ROA at Raintree

As part of the kindergartener’s “Bone Robot Project” at Forest Preschool, a Belgium artist who goes by the pseudonym Roa, came to paint!

Wait, I thought Roa had an art show in NYC at the Jonathan Levine Gallery going on right now?

He does! (Click here to check it out).

But while in the States he also visited Forest School!

Welcome ROA!

Welcome ROA!

The kindergarten class came upon Roa’s work when doing research for their “Bone Robot” project. The kids choose the themes for their semester-long projects. And this one was a doozy!

A student's sculpture (looks like a Bone Robot to me!)

A student’s sculpture (looks like a bone robot to me!)

Robots

Robots

Here is a short essay by the kindergarten teacher/owner of the school:

Who is That Masked Belgian Man?

Roa at Raintree

Roa at Raintree

Cultivating Relationships to Further Inquiry

To make a robot, it’s best to understand how bodies move. Bones, joints, muscles, tendons, cartilage are all good things to know for robot making. How are bodies put together? What components allow movement? What would happen if something were left out? What does the mechanics of animal locomotion mean for robots?

To answer these questions, the kindergarteners first studied the human body.

And from humans they moved on to local animals. Their goal: CREATE BONE ROBOTS THAT MOVE.

As Bone Robot Project evolved, the children became enthralled in the work of a graffiti artist also interested in the bodies and workings of animals bones–ROA.

“Wow. That’s just, I mean, that’s just pretty cool,” remarked a kindergartener.

And it is pretty cool. Roa examines the local fauna of an area–the common, the native, the endangered. He considers the role animals play in a particular place and with the human inhabitants. Then, he finds a prominent location to give it form. Using spray paint, Roa creates huge art pieces depicting the flesh and bone of a town.

Kindergarteners have a lot to say about his pieces. The often viscid nature of his graffiti seems to match the juxtaposition of the children’s project of bone and metal.

How will the children integrate their encounters with Roa’s art?

ROA painting

ROA painting

He used foam brushes, rollers and spray paint

He used foam brushes, rollers and spray paint

Mural Materials

Mural Materials

The kids observed him and sketched and wrote while he worked.

The kids observed him and sketched and wrote while he worked.

Baby and friends watching ROA

Baby and friends watching Roa

On day three…

He painted a...

He painted a…

Groundhog

Groundhog

Mural Materials II

Mural Materials II

I spy ROA painting in the studio (as seen from the kindergarten classroom)

I spy Roa painting in the studio (as seen from the kindergarten classroom)

Parent...

Parent…

Performance...

Performance…

Art!

Art!

My nine year old son (who used to attend this preschool) hasn’t gotten a chance to see the murals in person yet but he did look through all the pictures and jot down his thoughts…

One needn't be a gallery-goer to have an opinion of art...

One needn’t be a gallery-goer to have an opinion of art…

On the Raccoon skeleton, he wrote:

I realized that it was missing part of it’s rib cage. Why did you put it in skeleton form? Why didn’t you just paint a real raccoon? Couldn’t you have made it a bit smaller? I mean, it’s squished up in a little corner, well big corner but HUGE painting. The last thing is that wouldn’t it suck being that raccoon? Squished up in a corner of a room, missing part of your rib cage?

And on the Groundhog, he wrote:

Is that a squirrel or a groundhog? Because it looks a lot like a squirrel well, the head anyway. Why is it’s tail so stubby?

Roa has certainly taken some liberties with animal anatomy, exaggerating the size of the bones in the Raccoon’s tail and in his big-headed, skinny-necked groundhog. The kids noticed while he painted, that he worked quickly (each mural took approximately 3-5 hours each), did not have an eraser and he did not “fix” drips.

“I thought he was supposed to be professional?” one of the kindergarteners remarked as a drip of black paint left a trail down the wall. (hahahaha)

“This is art. If I wanted it to be perfect I would take a picture.” Roa answered.

Indeed!

It was fun to discover an artist with a secret identity as Spy Garden loves a little mystery. It is exciting to see how these murals have inspired conversation. How will they inform the next generation of artists?…

Fleeting graffiti

Fleeting graffiti

Dexie appreciating street art haha

Dexie appreciating street art haha

Roa’s recent works showing now at the Jonathan Levine Gallery are neatly contained in squares and rectangles you can hang on a wall:

Roa, Composition III: Alligatoridae, Testudinidae, Gastropoda (DETAIL) (source of image: Jonathan Levine Gallery)

Roa, Composition III: Alligatoridae, Testudinidae, Gastropoda (DETAIL) (source of image: Jonathan Levine Gallery)

Which is really just so much more civilized than street art. But civility, restraint, subtlety? Perhaps not the stuff to suit the wild preschoolers of the forest!

ROA!

My daughter (known in Spy Garden as Babyzilla!) attends a Forest School. Rather than have daily themes or weekly lessons, the kids do semester-long projects on topics of their own choosing. My son (known here as The Spy!) also attended the school when he was younger so I’ve seen a wide variety of really cool projects. At the end of each semester the project comes together with some sort of event or “store” or publication or art installation or field trip. The Ocean Project concluded with a child-written play. The kids made the set, designed and made the costumes (learning to sew with the teachers’ assistance) and performed for the parents.

The Spy 2011 Ocean Project

The Spy 2011 Ocean Project

Hammerheads. The Spy. 2011

Hammerheads. The Spy. 2011

There’s been a Dog Project which concluded with parents bringing in their dogs and walking them through different stations of a Dog Spa…

Maddie (our late golden retriever) in the Reading and Relaxation Station of the Dog Spa hahahah

Maddie (our late golden retriever) in the Reading and Relaxation Station of the Dog Spa hahahah

There was a City Project, Animal Project, Dirt Project and many more (and many more to come for Babyzilla!) Often when the kids are working on a project they will write letters to various individuals or businesses asking questions or making requests to learn more about the topic. Teaching kids to seek out experts in fields they are interested emphasizes that their inquiries are part of a world outside the classroom walls (or treeline)!

From the school’s website…

Our phi­los­o­phy is based on the truth that young chil­dren are best chal­lenged in the arts and sci­ences when they are given mean­ing­ful work in the dynamic set­ting of the real world. Here, their expe­ri­ences have big impli­ca­tions. Con­tent is con­tex­tual, not iso­lated. It is all con­nected to the world that sur­rounds.

Sounds impressive. But do preschoolers really feel connected to the world beyond what they see in their immediate surroundings? Do they really feel they have the power to influence their environment? Are these concepts farfetched? The school proves over and over again it is possible!

Recently, the kindergarten class at the school was doing a “Bone Robot Project” (remember the project topics are of the kids choosing!) While this project was underway, one student, in researching his first name (Roa) came across a Belgian street artist, whose pseudonym is ROA. ROA’s art often depicts the bones and other internal aspects of animals.

ROA. Vardø-Norway Photo © by Ian Cox 2012 (source)

ROA. Vardø-Norway Photo © by Ian Cox 2012 (source)

Excerpts from an email from the school…

When Roa brought examples of ROA’s work for them to see, they were inspired. They still mention his work often, and it has influenced the direction of the project. In fact, they were so inspired, they decided to write to ROA and invite him to paint a mural at [the school]. He’s kind of a big deal in Europe, so we really weren’t expecting a reply.

ROA said yes!!!

We believe in empowering children to change the world. This is not an empty, grandiose statement. When we say “change the world,” we mean the immediate world—the world within reach. We want our students to internalize an “I can” attitude. I can climb that rock. I can build a bone robot. In short, I can imagine a change in my environment and then make it happen. We believe that fostering this attitude can lead to the more grandiose outcome later in life. Writing a letter to a well-known artist and having him accommodate the request definitely serves this purpose.

This spring ROA will be coming to the school to do a mural. So exciting!!!

ROA. San Juan (source)

ROA. San Juan (source)

The animals ROA chooses to paint are those that live in the area surrounding the location of the mural. I wonder what he will choose? A bunny? Racoon? Deer? Ladybug? Groundhog? A turtle, snake or crawfish? He’s got a lot of great options of special creatures that live right in the woods of the school’s eleven acre campus.

ROA. Barcelona (source)

ROA. Barcelona (source)

ROA. Johannesburg South Africa. (source)

ROA. Johannesburg South Africa. (source)

ROA. Belgium (source)

ROA. Belgium (source)

What makes even more exciting is that ROA has a secret identity. ROA is a pseudonym. And I just love the concept of a secret identity. Spy Garden is sort of my own pseudonym. (Or is it Mrs. Spy Garden?!) Can’t wait to watch the mural in progress and to share the final masterpiece with you all!