The last Stretch with Hannah and Helen

During the last stretch with artists Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling, the class diligently crafted their sodas from the recipes they developed from last Monday’s session in preparation for their final presentation later on in the evening. It was a busy day of pipettes, measuring utensils, soda streams, flavouring extracts and home-brew equipment that turned the class into a site of sugary, carbonated production!

Divided into groups of six, the class produced six distinct types of soda. The flavours in each type ranged from tastes of coffee with mint and citrus, watermelon with popcorn and lemon and mushroom with plum! To boot, Helen and Hannah had also turned one drawing from each of the students into a vinyl sticker to mark the soda cans.

The class also got to try out the home-brew canning equipment that Helen and Hannah had brought into school. A few technical difficulties with the calibration of the canning machine at the beginning of the day made the final canning results even sweeter. Everyone got to take two cans of their groups’ soda home and the adults helped to assemble extra cans for the evening presentation.

During the event, students Noella and Ayesha were engaging bartenders and quickly ‘sold out’ of the popcorn flavoured soda (most requested flavour) and the LemRosé (lemon and rose flavour – second most popular). The soda bar was bustling all night!

Mixing it up!

Arriving shortly after lunch this week at Strathcona, the class was eager to start their taste tests!

The focus of today’s taste inquiries revolved around sweeteners and flavours. To kick it off, Helen and Hannah facilitated a discussion around sugar. What did the class already know about the kinds of sugar they might consume on a day to day basis? Did they know how much sugar was in Coca Cola? What other ingredients are in Coca Cola, and why is the public not allowed to know? Why is the recipe for Coca Cola a secret? Together everyone discussed what they think might be in the ubiquitous drink.

This warmed the class up to their soda mixing brainstorm. Divided up into groups of 6, they made measuring tools and were given 3 extracts per group. They mixed extracts together in varying degrees of quantity (more popcorn flavour, less mint etc.) and then combined the extracts with their sweeteners (various types of sugars made into simple syrups).

Taking meticulous notes, each group finally whittled down their mixing experiments to one recipe that they would take to their final session of soda production!


Jelly Bean Test

Reviewing what they had learned in the past few weeks, artists Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling brought in Choward’s Scented Gum and Soylent meal replacement for Ms Persoon’s grade 6/7 class to sample for this week’s session.

Hannah described tasting the Choward’s Scented gum as a ‘Jelly Bean Test’. Following similar strategies in their past sessions, the class tasted the gum first with their noses pinched, then ‘un-pinched’ to reveal the nuances of the novel confectionery. The Scented Gum was a product created by Charles Howard in New York in the 30’s, following the signature colour of ‘Chowards Violet’ mint. The gum was unlike any gum the class had ever tasted! Definitely not your usual Hubba Bubba or spearmint! Most of the class said they tasted cinnamon, perfume, then dish soap throughout their chewing experience.

Soylent samples

Soylent samples

The class also learnt that Soylent’s flavour was designed by an artist named Sean Raspet. He wanted to create a flavour unlike any other. Apparently, this future food contains 20% of one’s daily nutrients per bottle! Most of the class felt like the thick liquid tasted like dairy or pancake mix – kind of bland, but one student, Arius particularly loved the taste!

After these taste-making warm ups, Helen and Hannah categorized the scents from the class’ smell walk last week, printed them on slips of paper and got the class to draw two scent categories from a hat. The class then made line drawings based on the two categories, made into stickers to go on their future cans of soda!

First session with Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling!

Last week Ms. Persoon’s grade 6/7 class had their first session with artists Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling!

Long time collaborators, the duo spearhead the public art project/ flavour incubator/ taste-making think-tank Big Rock Candy Mountain. Through Big Rock Candy Mountain, they have worked with Queen Alexandra Elementary’s grade 3/4 to develop the Sour Vs. Sour Chocolate Bar.

The duo will carry on with their taste-making brainstorms with Ms. Persoon’s class at Strathcona, this time to develop their dream soda.

To kick off the day, the class discussed some of their thoughts around kid-centric candy advertising, later using these thoughts to analyze a few bars of Hannah and Helen’s Sour Vs. Sour chocolate! Hands on taste tests were fully engaged of course.

After a few samples of the bar, the class later went on to engage in some liquid flavours crafted by Hannah and Helen. With eyes closed and noses plugged, partners in the class each took turns recording their flavour findings.

Soda collage!

Soda collage!

Looking forward to next week’s taste tests!

Ms Persoon’s grade 6/7 class visits CAG!

Last week the students from MaryAnn Persoon’s grade 6/7 class came to visit CAG. During the trip, CAG Curator Kimberly Phillips gave the class an insider’s tour of Brent Wadden’s exhibition, Two Scores.

Kim gives a tour of Two Scores

Asking questions around Score Two (16 Afghans)

Guiding the class through a conversation that included the history of weaving and authorship, the class asked questions around who weaves and why/how these questions factor in to how Brent and Kim worked together to create the exhibition.

We also talked about ‘following the rules’ in weaving. Weaving is an activity that requires the weaver to follow a certain set of rules: a weaver uses a loom, creates a warp (vertical strings that are the ‘skeleton’ of the weaving) and creating a weft (the yarn or thread that goes in and out horizontally between the warp). How did Brent ‘break’ the rules when he made these works?

In order to explore the ideas of rules within artistic practices, CAG Learning and Public Programs Curator Danielle Green organized two rule-based drawing activities that shared similarities with Brent Wadden’s work in the gallery. Here Danielle led the class through some instruction based artworks inspired by Sol Lewitt, an artist best known for his contributions to the Conceptual art movement in the 1960s.

Here we created a collaborative drawing based on our own set of instructions:


Collaborative instruction based drawing train!

Collaborative instruction based drawing train!


Weaving Workshop with Guest Artist Travis Meinolf

In addition to their weekly session with artist Carmen Papalia, Ms Persoon’s grade 6/7 class was visited by guest artist Travis Meinolf, an internationally renowned and self-described ‘action weaver’ based in California. Travis presented a weaving workshop to the class coinciding with the current Brent Wadden exhibition at CAG: Two Scores.

During his introduction to the class, Travis told everyone that the social aspect of weaving is what is really important to him. Travis showed the class some tips and tricks on how to warp their chipboard looms and how to make ‘improvised’ weavings with the materials at hand.

Travis discusses weaving

Travis discusses weaving

Together, the class and the adults picked up on weaving skills that they had learned last year and learned new terms like shuttle (a sort of needle that you can spool your weft thread around) and shed (a material used to prop up the warp threads which makes it easier to weave (the class used their rulers)).

Weaving with sheds, needles and shuttles


Field trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery!

Last week the Lord Strathcona 6/7 students explored two exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Artist Carmen Papalia led a series of activities throughout the gallery across two exhibitions; Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg and 空/Emptiness: Emily Carr and Lui Shou Kwan. Beginning in the gallery’s rotunda, the class discussed the history of the Vancouver Art Gallery as the former provincial courthouse.  Although now a public art gallery, the gallery should still be remembered as a colonial site where marginalized groups were often put on trial unjustly and consequently incarcerated. Together, everyone acknowledged that they were living, working and playing on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the  xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Proceeding to the 2nd floor, which featured the exhibition, Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, the class split up into pairs and took turns guiding each other throughout the exhibition. In their pairs, one student closed their eyes and was guided by the other. The student with their eyes open would describe the works that they felt drawn too, the architecture of the gallery and other visitors in the room. The student with their eyes shut imagined the gallery and let themselves be guided by the nook of their partner’s elbow.

A visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery

A visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery

On the 4th floor, which featured the exhibition 空/Emptiness: Emily Carr and Lui Shou Kwan,  the class engaged in another eyes-closed exercise, but this time the group focused on the soundscape of the exhibition. Choosing a spot that they felt comfortable in, the group focused on the acoustic qualities of the room and formed narratives around the artworks based on their aural findings.

Listening to the soundscape of the exhibition

Listening to the soundscape of the exhibition room

At the end of the visit, the class met back in the rotunda. Coming to terms with their reflections on the social etiquette expected at the gallery, the exhibitions, the gallery history and the two activities they engaged in, the class responded by clapping loudly on the two staircases, an outburst of energy at the end of the day that garnered the attention of fellow gallery visitors!

We would like to thank the Vancouver Art Gallery for having us for this very special occasion!