The teacher had a butterfly on a string. He would bring it to class weighing down the end of the string under his stack of notes. It would flut around and then sit patiently on the back of an empty chair, honing its wings, slow—the pace of breathing. There is no breathing in class so this was the class’s breath. Then, at a moment when the teacher picked up his notes to remind himself of something it would float up, pulling its string around the semicircle of chairs, leaving a loop in its slack around each student. By the time it came around, 8, 11 or 15 loops draping off each desk, lines over notebooks, across course-packets, a folded arm, a pen, in some places hanging down near the floor, in some places falling over a shoulder or missing a desk entirely and across two knees… By that time, the end of the string would be clearly swept from the teacher’s desk and the butterfly would settle down again on the back of the same chair, hone its wings and breathe again for the class. The students would take each loop of string and rest it on the crown of their heads, so that when their heads would sway the butterfly would beat its wings a bit faster. At the end of the class, the teacher would ask for the end of the string back, collecting a loop from each student as they said farewell. With it all coiled in hand he would sit for a minute in the room alone with his butterfly, breathe deep and glance once more to the side to synchronize his breath with the butterfly’s.
Another class would be another dance, the butterfly always lifting off at the moment the teacher reached again for his notes. In the slack of its leash, the butterfly would trace the breeze, twitches, glances, movements of bodies, not-thoughts, and everything else that happened in the class except for the learning.
Teachers Monarchs and a sound of teaching brings together a group of performative sculptures and works on paper by Tim Simonds. “Streamers” move to the ambient environment and in the presence of bodies around them. Arrangements of “Teachers Monarchs” rest on a gathering of educational tables. The works are on view by daylight. The tables are borrowed and acquired from Starlight Preparatory, JEI Learning Center Bensonhurst, and a day care center in Rock Tavern, NY.