Hands & Heart: Local and world artists unite for Waldorf School event
The Aspen Times
The Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork has attempted to link the ways the arts are used in the school’s curriculum to its 10th annual fundraising gala, aiming for an event that’s in the same spirit as the education movement founded by Rudolf Steiner that now boasts schools in 60-some countries.
Friday’s event – “Envision: Hands & Heart” – will highlight aspects of its curriculum through the work of eight international folk artists and nine local artists.
Among them is Chales Andrade, the locally based painter whose work is tied inextricably to Steiner’s philosophy and the Waldorf movement.
Andrade immersed himself in Waldorf education in his 20s, while studying color theory in England, after becoming disillusioned with the way he was taught in the art program at Michigan State University.
“I can’t say the philosophy made me want to be an artist,” he said. “It made me want to be a better human being.”
Andrade worked as an art therapist before finding his aesthetic calling in the Lazure painting technique, which he’s now been using for 30 years. He’s painted Waldorf schools around the world in the layered and glazed Lazure style, and according to Steiner’s color theory, which inspired greats like Kandinky and Klee. it emphasizes use of transparent radiant color and specific ones for each Waldorf grade.
“Steiner said that the artist should learn to understand and experience the color that they’re working with,” Andrade said. “You have to be in touch with the intrinsic, spiritual quality of the colors, and that relationship will lift you up and give you motifs to work with. … I’m not trying to emote, I’m trying to have an aesthetic relationship with beauty,”
Among Andrade’s work is the interior of the straw-bale Carbondale structure that hosts the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork.
“I’ve been doing these a long time and I hear from so many people, ‘Oh, I love to be in this room. I never want to leave it,’” Andrade said from Texas, where he was painting the interior of a Waldorf student’s room at home.
A silent auction at the event will include folk art from Haiti, Tibet and Spain among other countries, along with the local artists, with proceeds going to the school’s programs and tuition assistance. Andrade has a Lazure home paint job, one of his paintings and a traditional Indian dinner for eight in the raffle.
The Waldorf approach includes using the arts – movement, drawing, painting music and such – to engage children in all subjects. It uses crafts to work on motor skills, using the same kinds of techniques used by the folk artists whose work is featured at Envision. The 20 pieces came from the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, N.M. with an eye on the Waldorf curriculum.
Organizers are trying to curate the fundraising event as a more purposeful version of the usual paddle-raising Aspen gala.
Waldorf students, for instance, play wooden flutes and classical string instruments in early grades, so the Envision auction includes a instruments from Madagascar artists Randrianarisoa Edmond. Dominican handbags made from recycled plastic bags are a nod to the crocheting used in Waldorf schools. A decorative rooster, by Haitian artist Piere Edgard Satyr, is in the auction as recognition of the farming and gardening aspect of the 3rd grade Waldorf curriculum. A Pakistani artist’s quilt, made from discarded clothing, mirrors the local Waldorf 8th graders’ quilts for Project Linus, which makes security blankets for children in crisis. Even the wood marionettes, from Myanmar artist Khin Maung Htwe, have a link to the Waldorf classroom: 7th graders there create marionettes of their own and perform a puppet theater play with them annually for the student body.
Likewise, the local artists who donated their work for the auction draw parallels between it and the Waldorf approach. Among them are sculptors Nancy Lovendahl and Sara Ransford, along with Jill Scher, herself a former handwork teacher at the Walforf School. Prominent local painter Noemi Kosmowski, furniture maker Brad Reed Nelson, metal artist Michael Lindsay, potter Alleghany Meadows and mixed media artist Isa Catto also gave work for Envision.