Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Take a Virtual Tour!

The art room is a busy place, where 500+ students enter through it's door at least once a week. It can seem a little mysterious to those who have only heard about it or have not yet ventured up to the third

Being on the top floor has its advantages with its treetop view and skylights.

The meeting area, also known as The Listening Area, provides a place for gathering at the beginning of class, where we touch base on the previous week and introduce lessons. The meeting area also serves as an excellent place for reconvening together as a group at the end of class to discuss our work. Students have the option of sitting on the carpet circles to make the area more comfortable.

The art room is a spacious, engaging place which allows students to focus on their work without being overly distracted, while still providing adequate stimulation. Tables were set up with still-life arrangements at the time of this photo.

The Art Library is a carpeted reading area filled with fiction and non-fiction books about art, artists, art-making and books illustrated by artists. Pictures and books provide visual reference tools to help students formulate ideas into reality. A separate, student reference library provides pictorial books to help students gain inspiration or visual assistance.

The nature lab is full of natural specimens often used for still lifes, observational drawing or choice time activities.

Carefully planned activity centers allow students to explore artistic concepts, once class work is finished. This allows students to pursue materials of their own choosing and work on projects of their own choice. This year we have choice centers for collage, drawing, fibers and sculpture.

Students may prefer to use art games, puzzles and other quick activities when finished.

The storage cabinets house student work and classroom materials, and is also home to the art vocabulary Word Wall.....

......and on the opposite side, a quick visual reference of the major art movements. Students often examine these while waiting in line for their teacher to pick them up from Art class. I believe in taking advantage of appropriate available spaces for use as "silent instruction". Kids pick up on things in the room around them when you least expect it! The Art Room, like any other class space, should serve as a "silent teacher".

I am lucky to have four bulletin boards in my room, which I use to showcase a variety of artistic themes.

Keeping track of the work of 500 students can be challenging! Students in grades 1-5 create a portfolio on the first day of class which stores all their work until the end of the year. Each class is color-coded, allowing me to keep a quick visual reference of each group. Portfolios provide invaluable tools for assessment throughout the year. Sketchbooks are also kept here for class use throughout the year.

We are very fortunate to have a kiln installed at our school, thanks to the generosity of the PTO and a grant from the Arlington Education Foundation. The kiln is housed in the greenhouse, outside the Art room. This allows for ceramic projects to be done with students in all grades and classes.

On the first floor main level, there are two designated areas for the display of student work throughout the year. The Art Gallery is located outside the cafeteria. In September, before classes have completed work, I use this space to also feature prints of professional artworks. This further increases the amount of educational and interactive art opportunities.

Our Masterpiece of the Month feature can be found on the second floor, outside the Library. Each month this board features a masterwork, particularly famous and easily recognizable artworks, for special spotlight. Some information including location and important facts about the work is also included.

There is also a series of display cases to for three-dimensional works in the main corridor. These cases are waiting to be filled with exciting creations soon! 

Also new this year are two parent communication boards located outside the Art Room and in the front lobby. These bulletin boards contain notices, current happenings, and general information. Be sure to check them out, as they are updated regularly.

Friday, May 01, 2015

The Brackett School Annual Concert & Art Show 2015

This year's art exhibit, Crossroads of the World: Sights and Sounds of the Caribbean, was a big success thanks to the hard work of students and the support of Brackett staff and families. As always, many thanks for your ongoing support and appreciation!

Tropical Paper Flower Installation
Kindergarten students were introduced to the three-dimensional art form known as installation by discussing a piece created in 2011 by contemporary Caribbean/Surinamese artist, Marcel Pinas, titled, Sanfica. Installation art transforms a physical space and changes how the viewer experiences the space in some manner, often by infusing unexpected materials or objects into the exhibit’s location. 
Students were then shown the work of floral installation artist, Rebecca Louise Law, and discussed how she transforms rooms by hanging thousands of flowers from ceilings, creating a magical and unexpected experience for people in the space.
After briefly discussing the bright, colorful flowers found in the Caribbean, students were informed that they would be creating paper flowers to hang in an installation similar to how Pinas and Law create their work. Students were led through a series of steps to create their flowers, including painting, tracing, cutting and gluing and the pieces were later linked together for the hanging exhibit.

All the Creatures In the Caribbean Sea
Grade One
Students in grade one were introduced to early Caribbean culture with a reading of an origin myth from the native Taino people called, How the Sea Began by George L. Crespo. Like all origin tales, this myth “explains” how the Caribbean Sea and its animals were created, while forming the Caribbean islands in its midst. Students were then shown examples of ancient symbolic stone carvings created by the Taino tribe, called petroglyphs. These simple, stylized carvings represent animals, objects and people once important to the Taino tribe. Students were asked to guess their meanings, while discussing how symbols are used and created.
Students were then asked to create a class list to brainstorm animals living in the warm Caribbean waters. A lengthy list was created and students were shown pictures of colorful ocean wildlife. They were then instructed to paint a symbol to represent one ocean creature of their choice and to use previously learned painting skills such as overlapping colors, incorporating pattern and utilizing different brushstrokes in order to create “symbols” of ocean animals that represent the colorful essence of the Caribbean sea.

Tap Tap Buses
Grade Two
Colorfully painted and heavily decorated buses and trucks can be seen throughout the country of Haiti. Referred to as “tap taps”, these buses serve as a hired cab service for marketplace transportation. Passengers must loudly clap, or tap, the side of the bus to signal the driver when to stop. 
Students in grade two were first shown several photographs of actual tap tap buses, paying close attention to the variety of pattern, symbols and detail used in decoration. No two taps taps are quite the same and each bus owner has their own preferences. This lesson was accompanied by a reading from the book, Tap Tap by Karen Lynn Williams, thus further bringing the tap tap experience to life.
Students were informed that they would be creating their own miniature tap tap buses out of clay. The element of geometric form was incorporated into the project. Each tap tap was built from one rectangular prism and two cylinders and students were led through the process of proper clay construction. The clay pieces were then kiln-fired and students decorated their buses according to their own design.

Paper Carnival Masks
Grade Three
Students in grade three briefly discussed how people from Europe and Africa came to the Caribbean hundreds of years ago, merging together, along with practices from the native tribes, creating a unique heritage and culture that has defined the Caribbean ever since. Today, countries in the Caribbean each have their own festivities and pastimes that originate from these cultures, while also being a separate interpretation. In Puerto Rico, several carnivals are celebrated throughout the country each year that revolve around African music, Spanish lore and the Taino (Native) use of masks. 
The Vejagante is a horned creature that originates from a Spanish legend surrounding Saint James the Apostle. Over the centuries, the character has been reinvented as a jovial, mischievous clown who embodies the playful spirit of these unique Caribbean carnivals. Many Puerto Rican citizens don masks and costumes and mimic the vejagante’s behavior while enjoying and partaking in the festivities. 
Students were shown several examples of papermache vejagante masks, created by folks artists, using traditional and non-traditional styles. Students were then instructed to design their own carnival mask from paper. 

Greetings from the Caribbean: 
Postage Stamp Design
Grade Four
Tourism readily comes to mind when one thinks of the Caribbean. Students, also, were quick to list things that pertained to tropical vacation activities when asked what they associated with the area. This is not surprising considering that travel to Caribbean countries has been a large industry in the area for many decades. However, in addition to climate, natural surroundings and wildlife, there are many attractions in the Caribbean countries, including architecture, cultural heritage and complex history.
Students reviewed and discussed how the character of the Caribbean as we know it today, was created and influenced by the European slave trade and the merging of European, African and Native American cultures, over several hundred years. Students were shown a photographic “tour” of the various aspects of the Caribbean environment, both natural and human-made. They were then shown many examples of postage stamps from various Caribbean countries and islands, with careful attention brought to the type of subject matter that is typically used to depict and represent a particular country. Students were then instructed to design a postage stamp for any Caribbean country of their choice.

Personalized Banner Flags
Grade Five
Students in grade five reviewed and discussed how the character of the Caribbean as we know it today, was created and influenced by the European slave trade and the merging of European, African and Native American cultures, over several hundred years. African people who were brought to the Caribbean colonies to work as slaves, also came with talents, knowledge and skills which they were not permitted to use, including the practice of their religions. However, African religions, as well and music and dance, have influenced aspects of Caribbean life and culture for many people living there today. In Haiti, followers of traditional African religions use heavily sequined banner flags, known as drapos, to garner the attention of African spirits whose help they wish to elicit. These banners are made by Caribbean folk artists using traditional techniques and typically contain the name and symbols pertaining to the spirit for which the banner was created. 
Students were instructed to design a personal banner to represent themselves, choosing symbols that best describe their personalities, interests, hobbies and skills. Students were given an array of shiny materials, including sequins, with which to embellish their banner, making them even more “eye-catching”.