Stina Puotinen, the Art Teacher at our Hudson Street site, also maintains an art making practice of her own, and was nominated and selected for an artist residency program that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her. For two weeks, Stina attended the Surf Point Foundation in York, Maine, a live-work space for visual artists and art professionals. Stina’s extensive exhibition background as well as her Bachelor’s degree in Art History and Studio Art from Vassar College, and a Master’s in Fine Art & Collaborative Practice from Manchester School of Art in the UK, made her the perfect candidate.
Stina (left) and the 3 other residents in her cohort.
The Surf Point Residency was a time of deep research and productivity for Stina. She connected with the environment of coastal Maine through natural materials on the shoreline and in wooded areas. Drawing inspiration from found and collected materials has been a core part of her practice, and she discovered ways to incorporate found materials and inspiration from the residency into her work. The natural environment of Maine was the perfect place for her to delve further into this practice. When she was not working in the “Sunrise Studio,” her temporary studio, Stina was embracing the wonders of the research library and the beauty of the home and natural environment provided by the residency.
Drawing inspiration from her surroundings at Surf Point inspired her teaching practice as well as her artmaking! Her time away in nature offered opportunities to collect natural materials to share with classes here at The Washington Market School. Stina has been using these natural materials as part of her making provocations in the Art Studio, inviting our young learners to explore natural objects and tap into their creativity on how they can use these materials in different ways. Over the last few weeks, parts of the tree has been a focus of the studio curriculum, with young learners exploring bark, leaves, branches, acorns, pinecones and more. She shared pictures of her discoveries in the forest as a means for the children to make connections between the materials present in the studio and the forest from which they came.
While in Maine on the residency, Stina wrote postcards to each Hudson Street classroom describing the local surroundings and incorporated pieces of her environment into the messages. Each classroom’s card features something from Maine’s natural environment that matches the letter of each classroom - A for Acorns, B for Blueberries, C for Chanterelles (making a connection to Class C’s emergent mushroom curriculum), D for Dandelion, F for Foliage and GH for Garden & Hive, to honor the bees working in the flower garden. Her hand-drawn cards were a starting point for introducing the collections of natural materials she brought back to the Art Studio at Hudson Street.