Wednesday, October 16, 2013

TASK Presentation at AAEA Conference

It happens - you start a blog and then you get busy.

Not sure what the sculpture is supposed to be.
The Alabama Art Education Association's conference is this weekend.  I will be presenting for the first time.  Because of many things, I am not quite ready.  I do not have a handout to send or print - I will be preparing that at the hotel tomorrow.  So when trying to decide how to give everyone links to the websites I will be discussing, I decided to share the information here.  I recently printed business cards with the url to this site, so I can hand them out at the conference instead of killing a bunch of trees with handouts people might not even want or use.

Cows and a tombstone?

The presentation is on art parties - and while I mention things like a dirty Santa party at Christmas or our end-of-the-year picnic (complete with watercolor waterguns and tempera Twister), the focus of the presentation is on TASK.

Our TASK box
This will be the third year I have run a TASK party for my National Art Honor Society students.  They love it.  I tell them not to tell the new members what happens at TASK (but I am sure they do, anyway).  Seriously, my face hurts the next day from smiling and laughing so much.

NAHS students interpret Munch
Oliver Herring held the first TASK event.  Basically, you draw a slip of paper out of a box and do what it says.  Then you make up a new task and write it down and put it in the box.  Draw another task, and repeat.  You can read more, plus see what kind of tasks wound up in TASK boxes at various events, at his website here.  Please note that these were parties for adults, and many of the tasks are inappropriate for students.

A hideout

Instead of having students make up tasks, I create a list of several hundred.  This way, I know all of the tasks will be appropriate, safe, and not hurt anyone's feelings.  I do have some tasks that are "create 5 tasks for the TASK box."

A student's take on van Gogh
I hand out the first task because they are prep for future tasks - make an art gallery for people to put their work in, make a cow pen, etc.  Later tasks will have people filling the art gallery or making cows for the cow pen.  The last batch that I dump in the box will have people trying to sell art from the gallery, taking the cows on a zipline trip, or dressing a cow in armor and filming a commercial to try and sell cow armor.

This cow was in an armor commercial during the 2012 TASK party.
There is some preparation involved for TASK.  We start a few weeks ahead of time, putting up flyers that say "TASK is coming!"  No further information.  TASK participants are sworn to secrecy.  It seems to make things more exciting.  A few days before, I start gathering supplies.  I go through the list of tasks to make sure we have everything we need.

My mannequin got a head and a fashionable new dress.
We tape up brown paper over the lockers and walls, and put a layer down on the floor.  We move tables out into the halls to hold supplies, and fill buckets with water for dirty brushes.

The hall will be trashed by the time we are done.

To clean up, we rinse out brushes, put away the supplies, and grab any art that is exceptionally cool to hang up in the art rooms.  Then we pull down the brown paper, roll it up, and take it to the dumpster.

The supply table gets messy by the end of the event.
Not only do my NAHS kids enjoy it, but other students see some of the resulting artwork and the signs and hear talk about it and I think it motivates some of the younger students to keep their art grade up so they can join.

Students wind up wearing all kinds of strange things.
Here is a link to the tasks I use - I update it every year, adding new ones I have thought of and deleting old ones that didn't work particularly well.  The starred ones are the ones I hand out at the beginning.  For video of a TASK event in action, check this out:

Keep in mind, this one was designed for adults.

TASK is a lot of work, but a lot of fun, and it's great letting the students create without rubrics, assignments, or grades.  I hope my presentation will encourage other educators to try TASK with their kids!

I miss my former students!