In May 2018, I had the great joy of working with Jen Kramer’s 6th grade class at the Guilford Central School–as part of the Confluence Project–with an arts-integrated residency to understand and celebrate our watersheds. Throughout the week, we studied, designed and created maps which were housed in hand-made journals that documented our journey together.
In our second project of the 10-day residency, we created ‘I Am the River’ Poems, drawing parallels between the life of the Broad Brook and its convergence with the Connecticut River, and the lives of the students as they prepare to enter Middle School life in Brattleboro. Using a variety of mark-making techniques, concrete poetry and watercolor styles, students built portraits of the River that were displayed in the windows of the classroom.
Our final project invited participation from the community, that culminated in a beautiful and heart-warming lantern walk into the Weeks Woods. After building lanterns from willow and branches collected in the forest, students embellished their luminaries with paper illustrating their personal maps, highlighting their journeys that have passed, and those that lie ahead.
Community members had the opportunity to build their own lanterns in a special lantern-workshop during the residency period, and following a memorable pot-luck on the evening of May 23rd, over 85 friends, family and community members gathered to celebrate the upcoming journey of the graduating 6th grade class.
As we gathered around the spring fire, students threw paper-boats into the flames and shared their stories, sang, chanted and created memories to last a lifetime.