SchoolArts Magazine

October 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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The Pla ful Spirit of Da f the Dead imager O pen-ended play encourages children to unlock their creativity and is considered an essential part of their development. As children grow older, play becomes more structured as they join sports teams or competitive aca- demic teams. By the time most chil- dren reach their teens, play has taken on a negative connotation. Adults often ask them to be serious about their work, and might say things like "Stop messing around and get to work. This isn't playtime!" A t any age, however, exploring ideas in an unstructured or open- ended manner can lead to important discoveries; all we have to do is give ourselves and our students the oppor- tunity. This is what Picasso was talk- ing about in his famous quote: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." F or artists, the concepts of "play" and "experimentation" are essentially the same. Although all artists engage in some form of play or experimenta- tion, many contemporary artists have emphasized play in their work, as can be seen in Oliver Herring's TASK parties and collaborative Areas for Action, Jessica Stockholder's sculp- tures, and Meow Wolf's interactive installations. T he artwork of Max Lehman embodies play in a subtler way, com- bining traditional ceramics, cartoon and Pop art imagery, and references to the historical artwork of Mexico and South America. About the Artist: Max Lehman Originally from Fort Knox, Kentucky, Max Lehman and his family relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, in the 1970s. Growing up in Phoenix, Lehman was surrounded by Hispanic art and cul- ture, and was especially fascinated by local artists' interpretations of Mexi- can folk art themes, such as Day of the Dead. Lehman studied media arts and Mesoamerican art history at Ari- zona State University in the early 1 980s and learned to work with ceramics at the F&R Pottery Studio in Cave Creek, Arizona. He also designed images for Southwestern interior ceramics at the Red Horse Clay Company. He later joined the Movimiento Artistico del Rio Salado Gallery, an artist-run co-op gal - lery that emphasized diversity and i nclusiveness. The gallery featured Hispanic, Aboriginal American, and contemporary artists. About the Artwork Although most of Lehman's training in ceramics took place in studios that produced mostly functional work, he currently makes pieces that are not functional, but that still evoke the spirit of the Hispanic culture in which he grew up. The playful spirit of Day of the Dead imagery—such as skeletons engaging in everyday tasks—comes through in Lehman's designs. In the world of fine art, his work can be connected to the complex zoomorphic sculptures of California artist David Gilhooly, the satirical ceramic sculptures of Robert Arne- son, and Michael Lucero's painted ceramics. Lehman combines these influences, along with a healthy dose of cartoon-inspired imagery, to create his playful, mysterious figures. At an ge, exploring ideas in an unstructured or open- ended manner can lead to important discoveries; all we have to do is give ourselves and our students the opportunit SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 25 L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G M A X L E H M A N P l f u l c e r a m i c s t h a t e v o ke t h e s p i r i t o f t h e D f t h e D e a d Max Lehman, Fall Bunn Low-fired earthenware with glaze, under- glaze, and acrylic paint; 17 x 10 x 4" (43 x 25 x 10 cm). Image courtesy of the artist. www. maxdna.com

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