After School Matters

The last two weekends, I have been a guest instructor for After School Matters, substituting for Dan Splaingard.  ASM is a program for teens in Chicago, trying to connect young folks with art, design, and architecture.  There are various branches, run out of various high schools, and I was asked by Nina Cherian, the lead instructor, to fill in for two Saturdays while Dan was out of town.  Nina's program runs out of Kelvyn Park High School, and is the only ASM program focused on architecture.  Students meet two days a week after school, and for a few hours Saturday morning, learning about design processes.  At the end of the semester, they tackle a design-build project for the community.  

Saturday is field-trip today, fortunately.  Last week, we met at the Voice of the City Studios a little before nine a.m. (kind of rough for our teenage comrades . . .), and then headed down the Blue Line to the Illinois Institute of Technology.  There, we participated in a workshop with other architects and students from across the city.  Sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, it was a great opportunity to learn about drawing, composition, and form.  Each student drew a fragment of a larger image with charcoal, then put the pieces together into meta-images.  They seemed to enjoy themselves, a judgement made mainly from the number of cellphone pictures taken of the finished products.  

Waiting for the train . . .

While everyone was scratching away at their newsprint, I took the opportunity to take a look around Mies Van Der Rohe's Crown Hall, a masterpiece of mid-century modernism and one of his signature buildings.  Recently renovated, it still has the terrazzo floors and column-free studio space that made it famous.  Despite the hard work of Atelier Ten (environmental consultants for the retrofit -- principal Paul Stoller lectured at the Rural Studio), it is still an absolute greenhouse, broiling hot on a sunny day in February on the south elevation, and cold and damp on the north side.  It felt good to be back in a studio again, reminding me of my own years in college.  On the way home, we tunneled through Rem Koolhaas' student center at IIT, which includes a metal structure that wraps the El.  Despite that particularly useless move -- there is no stop where he shelters the tracks -- it is one of his more rational buildings.  

Crown Hall, south elevation.
Bauhaus buildings are constitutionally forbidden from sporting any serif-bearing fonts.
Cardboard chairs by the IIT students.
Interesting color study by an IIT student.
Source image.
Collaborative finished product.
This week, we took a screen-printing workshop at Spudnik Press, down near where I work at the ReBuild Foundation.  All the students had already prepared designs and transparencies, so we just burned screens and slammed out some prints.  They all came out really well, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the process.  

ASM reminds me a lot of YouthBuild -- the students get a small stipend, it gives them something positive to do with their spare time, and encourages them towards a design future they might not have considered before.  I'm looking forward to spending some more time with the program, helping where I can.  

The Spudnik flag.
One of the many sweet prints littering the Spudnik studio.
More good work in the letterpress room.
Type symbols.
Designs, transparencies, hands.
Victoria pulling her first print.
Spreading ink.
Some sort of vaguely disturbing pentagrammy-heart symbol.  I think it's a band.  I dunno.  I am finally old enough to be completely out of touch with the youth.
Got to keep the squeegee clean.
I don't even know what's happening here, but I'm certain that it's serious.
Finished prints.
Fly away.
Tattin' it up.