Paris Views: Collections, Materials, Compositions

Ashley and I just took a marvelous spring break from the never ending winter in New England and went to Paris.  It was spring in Paris and we used the new bike system,Velib, to ride everywhere.  This trip, we frequented Les Puces, or the Flea Markets.  I have always wanted to visit  them.  It is a bit of a trek to the outskirts of the city, but every bit worth it.  We wandered over many blocks loving what we saw.  We did not buy anything really, but we were swept away by the spectacle and the aesthetic.  More than ever before, we were struck by the French art of arranging and composing materials and goods.

We were reminded of our studios and ateliers in the schools were we work.  There is a great similarity in what we are trying to achieve.  A sense of order, and richness and abundance at the same time.  A great diversity of materials placed in pleasing juxtapositions so that the imagination can take off based on what the eye sees.  Unusual combinations and provocative placements so that we are sparked by new possibilities.  Pleasing compositions of materials attract us and we are drawn to touch them and explore them.  Loris Malaguzzi used to say that the areas of our classrooms should be like market stalls, enticing children to interact with what they find and to learn in joyful ways.

What we found in Paris was a great feast for the eyes, and a lovely reminder of what thoughtful display and organization can provide for us.  We were also renewed by the challenge to go looking for beautiful stuff everywhere with children and families.  In this way, we can all benefit from playing and learning with diversity, beauty, color, form, fabric, yarn, metals, ceramics, found objects and the joy of holding the stuff of the world in our hands and shaping it anew.