Calef Brown comes to town – and islands, too!

Calef Brown began his spring IRW tour with a rousing visit to Conners Emerson Elementary School on Mount Desert Island. Three workshops with kindergarteners were filled with giggles, creativity, and lots of word play. Calef shared his own work and students got to imagine, write, and draw their own combination creatures. They knew about opposites and similes, and helped him to develop snappy names for strange beings that they brought to life on paper.

The upper grades took advantage of Calef’s visit and enjoyed his informal presentations for 5th – 8th graders during their lunch break. In a relaxed setting, he shared examples of some of his own professional marketing work, and samples of his RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) student assignments. He got them thinking about how to create a message and story with visuals. They were engaged and interested in the RISD students’ projects and how they used graphics to relay thoughts.

Next, Calef and IRW popped over to Trenton Elementary School to visit with students in Grades K – 2.

They discovered that silliness is not just for kids! When Calef is in the room, imaginations run wild and combo monsters like dragon-rhino-fish come to life. One first grade boy was so excited to meet Calef that he declared – “I write books!” – upon entering the library.

The next day, Calef, IRW, and the three students and teacher from Frenchboro School all boarded a ferry for Great Cranberry Island, where they visited Longfellow School’s wonderful group of students from both Cranberry Islands. Monhegan School and Cliff Island School also virtually participated in the day through a Zoom video conference. Though it was a tech-learning experience, it was an overall success and helped connect students far south of the Cranberry Islands with over a dozen other island students reading the book.

Calef gave a presentation on rhyming, portmanteau, word mash ups and mixed up combination creatures. He then worked with youngers, in the room and then virtually, on their very own creature combinations, like a dorse (door-horse), bunnyox, and cheetahare.

Older students got to see some of Calef’s portfolio and how he develops messages for clients through his visual work. They took that inspiration and came up with some interesting interpretations of their own for examples of messaging that were important to them about the environment, city vs. country life, etc.

One final circle for the day gave everyone a chance to share their words and artwork and for Calef to give feedback on what he saw in their work. They shared via ZOOM the artwork and poems they developed on Cliff and Monhegan including a RabbitTiger, complete in orange and black lettering (to simulate tiger stripes).

When we asked the students – what are you excited about? –  they said: Writing poetry, Drawing, About Calef, Drawing animals, Mash ups, “I actually drew a person successfully!!” and “Making a first draft and developing an idea.”

It was great to convene these four schools and its always great to work with Calef and his whimsical, meaningful and thoughtful art and writing. Who knows where we’ll end up next?

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