I am going to go out on a limb and say it, and maybe some of you out there will say it’s too soon to call, but the start to this school year has been phenomenally great. It’s a feeling all Maury staff members have echoed in unison. We see it in a silent smile exchanged between colleagues as we pass between classes. We hear it in the laughter between a student and his teacher after a joke is shared down the hall. We feel it each morning as our excited learners tackle us with hugs and place handwritten notes in our mailboxes.
After three full years at Maury, I can finally, truly see, my passion for the arts rubbing off on my students. These kids will be lifelong learners and lovers of art and that alone has everything to do with why I feel so good about the year ahead.
On Friday, Ms. Washington, our beloved security guard, came to visit me in the studio on her lunch break and caught me in a euphoric moment. I was reviewing a weeks worth of student art work and was overwhelmed by how clever, creative, talented, funny, and ironic each of our students can be. When I look at their work, I feel like I know each and every one of them on a personal level. This is how I know they are becoming great artists. Their artwork has the ability to communicate so much about who they are as people to the viewer. I see Ben’s wild imagination, Samantha’s eye toward the future, Dani’s ability to challenge the status quo, and Talan’s determination.
I showed Ms. Washington piece after piece, boasting about our student’s level of insight and charm, desperate to share with whoever would listen that the work before them was the product of three years of emphasizing to students that art, however fun it may be, is so much more than “fun”. Art is a communication medium, a chance to express ideas, feelings, and opinions. Art is one of the most powerful means of personal, community, and cultural expression. Art endures and inspires. I think Picasso said it best when he so eloquently stated, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Students overwhelmingly concur.
When asked to answer two challenging questions during the first week of school, “What is art and why do we make it?” the responses ran the gamut. In the end, everyone agreed that art is an important part of the human experience and that with out it, the world would suffer.
Personally, I got a real kick out of Gavin’s response to the question. Do you notice the all black square above? That was his way of expressing art’s “all encompassing” power. I love it.
Not only were students able to begin to articulate two questions humans have been working to understand for centuries, but they have also started to take what I said about art being a communication medium seriously. During the second and third weeks of school, kindergarten-5th grade have been tasked with creating collages that successfully communicate a predetermined theme. This week, we will critique the works of art and determine which artist was able to most creatively and compellingly express meaning through visual imagery. Here are some kindergarten students demonstrating a Turn & Talk while discussing the triumphs of one of their peer’s work.
Get a look at our themes and assessment rubric.
4th Grade: Awkward Family Photo
2nd Grade: You Want Me To Eat That?
1st Grade: Help! The Garden Ate My Homework!
Kindergarten: Buildings with Personality (we’re still mastering the cut and paste technique needed in collage)
Thanks again for sharing your kids AND your National Geographic Magazines with me! I will consider this an appropriate time to ask you to keep them coming (the kids and the magazines) as well as ask for you to send in your old Washington Post newspapers. We’ll need lots of newspaper to cover the art tables and sculpt with in the near future. Thanks!