Animating Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree at Mountainside Secondary.

An extension of the Inside Out Project Own Your Journey  at Mountainside Secondary 2014-2015, the animation portion- spearheaded by my colleague and dear friend, Ian Powell- engaged students in a deep and meaningful way.  Ian chose The Red Tree by Shaun Tan as the vehicle to help students address social and emotional intelligence, self-reflection and empowerment as well as project planning and passion-based learning.  Students worked individually or in small groups to interpret and animate each page of the dark and remarkable book:

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Image source

The Red Tree is a story without any particular narrative; a series of distinct imaginary worlds as self-contained images which invite readers to draw their own meaning in the absence of any written explanation. As a concept, the book is inspired by the impulse of children and adults alike to describe feelings using metaphor – monsters, storms, sunshine, rainbows and so on. Moving beyond cliché, I sought painted images that might further explore the expressive possibilities of this kind of shared imagination, which could be at once strange and familiar. A nameless young girl appears in every picture, a stand-in for ourselves; she passes helplessly through many dark moments, yet ultimately finds something hopeful at the end of her journey. Shaun Tan – source

“Darkness overcomes you”, oil and acrylic on paper. source
“Nobody Understands” oil, acrylic and wax pencil on paper source
“Without sense or reason” oils, acrylic and collage on paper. source
“Self Porttrait” oils, acrylic, pencil and collage on paper. source

I could not be more honored to work with these extraordinary youth.

 Congratulations to all who worked on the piece. Your interpretations are breathtaking and your dedication to the project an inspiration!

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Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree, Mountainside Secondary School 2015:

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