Sometime this week, we were finishing up year 8 art class, a large group of students spread across a large classroom, a third finishing up clay and the rest restarting a project that preceded the clay project, but was abandoned for some reason. Students were coming up one by one showing me their finished work. "Oh, good. Just put it back over by the wall," I would say to the clay students. "Do I need to keep covering it with plastic?" some would ask. And then students started bringing the other, previously abandoned project up. "I'm finished. What do I do?"
It was a project related to what the younger students were doing, a lot of cutting and pasting of construction paper. Inspiration for these projects was a pile of construction paper (I've never seen construction paper in China, so I figure it was from some "international order" made by the last art teacher.) For this project students had to draw each other from a three-quarter view and then use construction paper to define the edges within the drawing. The drawings were great. I just told them to use color transitions to show the lines they had drawn and some of them really went crazy. Bizarre collages and fragmented cubistic constructions.
Then this girl whose named Marissa came up with her drawing of Julia, her classmate, carefully covered with brightly colored paper. "That's great," I said. And then a sudden "Ha!" came out of my mouth as involuntarily as always. "I have to show you this," I said excitedly. "It's Vermeer...15th century...or 16th, or 17th." I Googled "Vermeer, girl" but then stopped it before any results come up. You can't google anything with "girl" in it nowadays. Especially with an 11 year old standing right there. So I went to wikipaintings.org. I mean, if a nude pops up there, at least its tasteful. "This is crazy," I muttered as I scrolled through a list of artist's names. Marissa pointed to Vermeer in the list. "Right," I said and clicked on it, There was the painting. I clicked on the painting and heard a gasp and then "Hey Julia, come here, come here." I quizzed Marissa about the possibility of her having seen this before. "Do you think maybe you did and it was in your subconscious?" "No, definitely not," she reassured me.
Now, I know there wasn't a lot of resemblance, but it sure was satisfying making a fuss over nothing and watching those two girls walk away seeing their work in a new light.