Earlier this year, the students of Douglas High School’s Media Arts class were introduced to multimedia artist Aaron Stewart Lewis Knapp of Portal.
Instructor Mark Silverstein and Knapp took elements from the technical class to help students look at the creative process in new ways.
“The class is focussed on media production, and I see that as involving two things really,” said Knapp. “You need to know how to work the camera and equipment, cast the right people, and produce; but really all of that is irrelevant if you don’t have quality content.”
The students were directed to create an original character by writing descriptive profiles. At the end of the week the students were challenged to present to their classmates and act out their character. To enhance the student’s ability to visualize and embrace the character, and ease stage fright, masks were decorated and used.
“Through personal experience I feel that masks are a great way to talk about all sorts of things,” Knapp said. “You can talk about the performance side of it, the psychological side, the history. It was important to give the students an idea that there are other ways to communicate other than talking or writing an essay. Some people aren't quite good with words but they have such expression.”
Knapp, a Florida native, has been a guest speaker, lecturer and tutor at middle school to university levels.
Through his creative project, The Chemical Marriage, he produces music, poetry, performance art, fashion and more.
“The Chemical Marriage was inspired by alchemy,” said Knapp in an interview with the Douglas Dispatch. “In alchemy you take base matter such as led or carbon and you turn it into gold. Art is alchemy because I didn’t create the pigments, words, or canvas I use...but I move them around.”
He continued, “When someone else comes to see the work of art and it creates a new thought or feeling; there’s going to be some sort of upwelling in you that was not there prior. When that happens, that’s the gold.”
Knapp emphasized the importance of creation and storytelling among the students as a way of communication.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do with the class for a while,” Silverstein said. “It involves writing, creation and the use of multimedia approaches as far as art supplies go. It’s kinesthetic, which is what I think education should be all about.”
Knapp mentioned that he hopes to collaborate with more creative individuals and groups in the future, as he can be contacted at email@example.com.