Firebaugh High School’s Introduction to Craft in America
As mentioned in our previous post, we have hosted two new schools this January as part of our Craft in Schools educational programming. This week Firebaugh High School, which is part of the Lynwood School District, visited our Center for the first time. It was great having a range of grades 9th-12th and having them all learn our curriculum together. It was a great opportunity to also have these students meet Pomo basketry weaver Corine Pearce, who led an impactful conversation on how our cultural backgrounds have a significance in our personal art works.
These students came prepared with notes and questions because they were able to view Corine Pearce’s segment from our CALIFORNIA episode prior to their visit. When they arrived to the Center, they were already acquainted with some of the baskets and therefore led them to be more relaxed and comfortable with work on display in “California: Rooted.” However, unlike our elementary groups, Firebaugh students were very soft spoken and we had to ask students to share their thoughts rather then have them offer it freely. It is always a learning experience for the adults, as well as the adolescents, on how to hold an engaging conversation about craft with a younger generation. We always ask ourselves, how do they perceive the art at the Center and how can they best connect with it?
After much discussion pertaining functional and historical works in the exhibition, it was time for the students to hear a living and working artist talk about their practice. They listened and asked questions as Corine discussed her reason for basket weaving, her reason for carrying out such an important mission to her life, family and people. Students asked about the length of time involved in creating a basket and what the going price is.
Towards the end their conversation, Corine asked each student to share something new they learned from meeting her. Everyone was given a chance to speak. A majority of the expressed interest in dabbling in the art of basket weaving themselves and the classroom teacher assured us she will be obtaining supplies like Rattan in order to give her students a demonstration. In Corine Pearce’s words, “No matter what tribe or nation or group of people we come from, we all wove baskets, our ancestors wove baskets and we all have a basket inside of us.”