Reflection: I was, I am, I will be
How would you answer Chanel Miller’s “I was, I am, I will be” prompt? Would your answers look like Miller’s, or would they look different?
Made of densely layered paper, fabric, and paint, Personal Space reflects Jayashree Chakravarty’s idyllic upbringing in the lush countryside outside the city of Kolkata, India, as well as her anxiety at seeing this natural environment destroyed by the rapid spread of urbanization. The work serves as both a map and a diary, capturing how the artist remembers distant times and places — a dynamic and evolving experience that many of us share with respect to our own environments.
In this activity, you will create your own layered collage to preserve your memories of a special place in your life.
• Reflect on why specific spaces hold personal meaning
• Explore how memories of a place, and the place itself, change over time
• Engage in collaging techniques
• Then/Now Worksheet (below)
• Magazines, newspapers, photographs that you can cut up
• Tracing paper, tape, glue, pencils/pens, scissors
• Optional: materials from nature (leaves, grasses, flowers, bark, soil, etc.) that you want to include in your collage
1. Watch the video linked above to learn about Chakravarty’s inspiration and process in creating Personal Space.
a. While watching, observe and write down every material you can see Chakravarty use in her map.
b. What details in the map surprised you?
2. Discuss with a friend or in a small group: Chakravarty is very interested in how places change over time. How does her layered map-making technique help show this change?
1. Using the Then/Now worksheet (pdf in sidebar above), brainstorm sensory details about a special place in your life that has changed over time (for example, your childhood home, classroom, neighborhood, bedroom, etc.). Look over your completed worksheet and reflect on how your feelings about this place have changed over time.
2. Collect from magazines, newspapers, photographs, and even the outdoors any pictures, words, colors, and textures that remind you of your special place. Think about how the gathered images, objects, and words connect to the details you brainstormed on your worksheet.
3. Divide your collected items into “Then” and “Now” categories.
4. On one sheet of tracing paper, create a collage using the “Then” materials. Then, on another sheet of tracing paper, create the “Now” collage. Experiment with the placement of your items before you glue them down.
5. Glue the “Now” collage on top of the “Then” collage to create your own layered “personal space.” Hold your finished artwork in front of a lamp or tape it to a window. What parts of your “Then” collage can you see through the tracing paper?
1. How did it feel thinking about how your special place has changed over time? Was it challenging to think about or notice change? Why or why not?
2. Did you like the first or second layer of your collage better? What is it like looking at the complete artwork and seeing the “Then” layer behind the “Now” layer?
3. What new discoveries did you make about your special place from doing this art activity?