November 27, 2013
Artist Kiki van der Heiden and writer Alison Gear worked with 70 children on Haida Gwaii children for the Taan's Moons project, an exploration of the traditional Haida ways of describing the months of the year. The children are engaged in language arts activities including felt board stories, memory card games and writing exercises, as well as math exercises, movement, drama and many felting and drawing activities. Photographer Jason Shafto is documenting the process. Artist Kiki van der Heiden shares her story with us...
During our first visit to the schools, Alison and I invited the children to make a drawing for their part of the Taan's Moons story. Based on the childrens' drawings and stories, I we will create circular illustration sketches for the moons.
The children's drawings for the Taan's Moons poem, created during our introductory visit to the elementary schools of Haida Gwaii, play a very important part in the design of the thirteen felt moons. Together with Alison's poem, they informed me how to design the sketches for each moon/month. The children had unique stories and drawings, with new ideas to incorporate.
In Noisy Geese Moon (see below), one of the children drew three noisy geese in front of the bear's den. He said, "The geese are waking up the bear." Another child had drawn bright sunshine in the bear's den. He said, "Sleeping bear, he is dreaming of race cars. The sun is coming in the den, waking bear up."
For Food Gathering Moon, a student had drawn two baby bear and one mama bear, she said, "Bear eating berries. Two bear cups love their mama. They're just outside the Kindergarten room." For that moon, I made sure to have two cub bears following their mama bear.
For Snow Moon, one student described, "Bear is in the tunnel, his eyes are closed. Then he goes out of the tunnel, he feels the snow with his paws. It feels just like the inside of his tunnel. There are his foot prints in the snow..." Another student descibes "Bear jumping in snow because he needs exercise". And the following says "Bear going for a walk in the snow, he doesn't recognize his cave in the snow." The illustration obviously needed to have bear foot prints in the snow.
The 13 circular sketches will be used as guidelines for the creation of the felted moons. They also inform me about the kinds of felting activities we need to do to create elements that will be inserted in the large moons. For example, we will create small felted squares with some honking geese with the school that creates Noisy Geese Moon, and we'll create felt seaweed and small squares with crabs and fish for Food Gathering Moon and Fish Moon, and bear foot prints in snow for Snow Moon. We will prepare all these ingredients in our next session at the schools.
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