The SK’s have been very busy over the last several weeks learning amazing new things about Art & Culture from the AGO. They’ve had three extremely enriching and engaging workshops – Art and the Environment, Art and the Senses and, most recently, Indigenous Art and Artists. This last session was perfectly timed for the start of Indigenous History Month in Canada.

Our host Mahlikah Aweri blew us away with her knowledge and the way she was able to keep the children engaged. Her soothing voice felt like a dream as she led us through works by Indigenous artists. Mahlikah was constantly collaborating with the children through question and answer, helping them discover emotions and feelings through each piece of art she shared. Mahlikah’s focus was on mindfulness and well-being, specifically through Indigenous art. Rebecca Belmore’s piece, Untitled 1, 2, 3, 2004, was a powerful example of emotive work to show the children. It depicts a woman wrapped in white cloth. Mahlikah described the woman as ‘swaddled’ – an adjective she used many times to reinforce the feeling in the photographs. She asked the children what they felt while witnessing the work. They shared words like cocoon, butterflies resting and babies in their cloth close to their mummies to describe feelings of comfort, gentleness and safety.

The children were also affected by Daphne Odig’s Thunder, the Noise Maker, 1968. They wanted to spend extra time reflecting on this one. Mahlikah shared that Manitou, the subject of the drawing, is the Creator of All in Indigenous culture. Some children thought that maybe it was a stormy day and that the lights were reflecting the energy of the electricity because of the movement in the line work. The children created their own thunder cloud with instructions from Mahlikah to show what a storm makes them feel like in their drawings.

All the virtual AGO visits were exhilarating and were such a unique opportunity to pique the students’ curiosity by asking them to think outside of the box. There was a journey with the Toronto Symphony to Europe to explore the connection between art and music through diverse, real-world perspectives. After focusing on Cubist artist Albert Gleizes’ Le Port, the children created their own artistic landscape using the energies they could hear in the music. The children also joined the National Ballet of Canada for movement and performance inspired by the artworks in the AGO Collection and the ballet Alice in Wonderland. And that’s just to name a few of the activities they got up to! Pretty fantastic. Thank you to the AGO and the presenters for putting together so much great content for the children. We all learned so much!

Clara & Paula
SK Teachers
Children’s Garden School