Discovering the Power of Story: Ortiz Middle School

The nine El Otro Lado classes across Santa Fe are preparing for the Festival of Learning on April 22. From masks, quilts, sculptures, poetry, song, and claymation, students, teachers and teaching artists have found creative ways to share their individual and collective stories. Here we offer a glimpse into the upcoming De Dónde Somos exhibition as part of the Festival of Learning through the words of an El Otro Lado Teaching Artist:

Maria Castillo’s 6th grade El Otro Lado in the Schools students have progressed through all sorts of investigations into their identities and stories this year, from drawing identity maps, to bringing in touchstone objects that reflect a story about themselves, to creating “I Am From” poems that reflect their roots. It has been an artistic process towards connection and self-worth.

Right now (to the happiness of the students), we are finally completing the mask project we began during our full day together in autumn when we glued newspaper strips to balloons to create rigid spheres. Now that they are dry, we have cut them in half to begin the process of creating separate masks that reflect two different words that each student picked out from their writing to reflect two different sides of themselves.

Words like “Crazy/Beautiful” and “Sports/Reflective” have been coming up. We also looked at and talked about lots of pictures of masks from different places and times to get ideas. There is lots of activity and creativity in the classroom these days as the students paint, glue, cut, draw, and imagine what their projects will look like when they are installed in the exhibition at the El Otro Lado culminating event at SITE Santa Fe on April 22nd.

These masks, when complete, will be used to further inquiry into the students’ individual identities as they write stories about what they envision the masks’ characters to be as reflections of themselves and what happens when different masks interact. Who knows, there may even be a song or a short story in the works!

Andy Primm
Teaching Artist