Art project spotlight: mapping connections in ‘Outside the Box’

Arts

Students in the “Outside the Box” class are recording their paths throughout the day and collectively mapping them in class. During class, students draw their paths (on a large paper) throughout the day and how they intersect with one another. Creative arts teacher Katherine Burnett said that this is a difficult project that requires a lot more thinking than drawing or painting still life. The collective drawing is everyone’s journey for the last week of class, mapped out in one image. “From where they travel from their mornings to their classes,” she said, “the marks they created are recording each step, each terrain, the speed of their travel.”

Ms. Burnett said that she is always trying new things with her classes and exploring new projects. She said that she gets inspired by other artists, and the idea for this project came to her when she saw a really beautiful map. This led her to think about how she can transfer this into an assignment that can be fun and engaging for her students. “It’s just a recording of our world and the space around us, and there’s so many different ways to show that,” she said. Ms. Burnett said that the purpose of “Outside the Box” is for people to see all the possibilities of being creative, and this project is designed for students to have a lot of choice in what medium they are using. “I think that learning different ways to create, you start to notice things more and observe the world around you and open your mind to the many ways we are creative people,” she said. “It is important to think about other ways art can be created.”

Sophomore Bella Herz said that the class is where she is able to show her uniqueness and there’s a lot of room for creativity. She said she is able to take many paths in this assignment. “As an end piece, where we are all doing our own paths, and at the end it’s really interesting to see how it comes together,” she said. “I feel like from our perspective we can do what we want.” Ms. Burnett said that this project was developed by her and her students, taking into account what she believes her students will truly enjoy. “It’s really exciting for me because I am not bound to one discipline. I can learn with the students, and I don’t have to know all the answers. We can learn it together,” she said.  

Sophomore Jaden Paldino said that with this project, there is more flexibility, and you can go whatever way. You can really think about what you want to do with no set guidelines. “With this piece, you can’t really mess up with it; everything you do is about your creativity. You can take it in whatever [way] you want,” she said. “There usually a specific guideline and in this one she gives us a project and we take it into our hands, and we are the ones thinking and making the guideline.”

Ms. Burnett said that last year she and her students felt the need for an intermediate class that allowed students to solve problems using any materials. “I will give them themes or problems to solve, in any way they want,” she said. “For me it’s really about creativity.”