The Atelier (which means Artist´s Workshop in Italian and French) is the name given to the pedagogical and artistic project in which the children develop their research projects following their interests and inquiries. The children´s questions, which are not necessarily expressed orally but also seen in their actions, gestures and preferences, are the starting point for the development of research projects in which different disciplines related to art and pedagogy can enter into a dialogue.
The Atelier is defined as a space of Listening to the Childhood, where children´s ideas, observations, approaches, sensations and actions are justified as other ways of constructing knowledge and identifying themselves in different ways. It is for this reason that in the Atelier of the Colegio Bolívar, the children are the ones who decide where to begin the work, with which elements, and what necessities and problems must be faced in the projects, which are developed over a long-term framework of 6 to 12 months.
The conceptual structure, on which the Atelier project has been built, is based upon the dialogue between Art, Pedagogy and Childhood. For this reason, one speaks of three principles which move within each of the spaces and proposals of the Atelier, and accompany each one of the children´s projects.
THE OTHER WAYS CHILDREN LEARN, is where one speaks of the justification of children´s own knowledge, which not necessarily responds to the what is expected in the curriculum or the stages of development. This allows one to see the diverse forms in which childhood relates itself to its context, to others, and to knowledge and ideas.
In the same way, one speaks of CONTEMPORARY ARTISTIC PRACTICES, because the Atelier is not a place where the children have an objective of acquiring skills at a fine arts or technical level, rather it is a space for dialoguing with the language of art. This dialogue is accompanied by a context, a story, and a collectivity, in which the children´s artistic proposals generate artwork with a plural voice, in which the technique is an accomplice for their own ideas.
In the Atelier, the concept of TRASH is worked on, since it is a reference to waste, something that no one wants to have or see. From this perspective, trash is defined as an object loaded with history. That is, it has had its place somewhere and during some time, since it did belong to someone and had a meaning for that someone. It is precisely this historical happening which becomes a dialogue for the children as they are presented with a space, constructed and filled with trash, which has been collected in the Colegio Bolívar community. This connection which is generated between childhood and trash does not involve re-use or recycling, rather the re-signification of the object through the actions, with the body, and through dialogue.
This proposal allows the children to be perceived as wise thinkers and communicators, in such a way that they will always find “temptations” in working with materials and resources that help them broaden their horizons about their ideas. With the use of these means, the children explore and express their knowledge, connecting them to the work they do in the classrooms and to their development, achieving the acquisition of new levels of knowledge through these projects. The parents confirm that this is a unique place, highly valued and agree that the motivation of the children in the Atelier generates astonishing results.