There once was an artist name Alexander Calder. But he didn’t call himself Alexander. And he didn’t call what he did art. So begins this biography by Tanya Lee Stone.
I love picture book biographies that highlight people who I have never heard of, like Tony Sarg in Balloons Over Broadway or the Acerra family in Brothers at Bat. I also like picture book biographies like Sandy’s Circus that take a familiar figure and show a side to him that isn’t as well-known. When I think of Calder I think of mobiles. I’d guess that a large percentage of non-art majors think the same thing. Stone however chooses to concentrate on a work that preceded Calder’s mobiles: a moveable tiny circus constructed of wire and other odds and ends. (The mobiles are also in this book but they aren’t the focus.) I also liked that Stone points out that Calder’s parents (artists themselves) always gave him a workshop and tools of his own to create.
H. does art with the kids each week. I can’t take credit for the implementation of this project or really describe the process they used. I think it involved reading the book, looking at some Calder works online and then pretty much turning the kids loose with some wire and paper and a little instruction.
Artists from top to bottom: Ruth, David, John. One neat thing about this project was that John who doesn’t usually enjoy art very much was as into it as David. Interestingly, Calder himself was trained as an engineer. So perhaps it makes sense that a Calder inspired project would appeal to both our engineer (John) and our artist (David). Even more, perhaps it’s a good lesson for us (and the kids) that one person doesn’t have to fit so neatly into the box of “engineer” or “artist”.
And don’t forget to stop by Hope is the Word for more Read Aloud Thursday.