Yamate Art Exhibition – ES Artists on display

A number of our elementary school art students will have their artwork exhibited in the annual Yamate Art Show: February 14 – 24 at Bluff No. 115-3, The British House — link here — across the street from Y.I.S. (横浜市中区山手町115-3) from 9:30-17:00 daily, 9:30-12:00 on Feb 24.

This art show is part of the Yokohama Yamate Art Festival and includes the artwork of students from several schools in the Yamate area, each exhibited at a different residence on The Bluff.

Do come visit the Y.I.S. student gallery at Bluff No. 115-3 and see the energy, efforts, and two- & three-dimensional creativity of our Kindergarten through Grade 5 artists!

Young Artists Group ESA progresses with the new YIS mural

Last year, the ten young artists who participated in the Young Artists Group ESA completed a mural (a wall painting) on the side of the Inge Building, 2012-13’s effort to increase the on-campus art here at YIS. The goal of our group continues to be to use and showcase our creativity, skills, and knowledge to make Yokohama International School OUR school by adding something of ourselves to it — and to make everyone’s day here on campus a bit more interesting and enjoyable. YIS is not just a place where we come to learn; it’s also where we spend so much time with our friends, playing and talking and having fun. We want our murals to represent both ourselves as students and Japan, the country we all live in.

Our new mural is on the wall at the bottom of the outdoor stairway leading from the ES level up to the main building and library. There was already a mural there, and it used to look like this:

stairway wall mural original  - photo by A.Reed

stairway wall mural original – photo by A.Reed

It was made some years back by YIS students (a number of whom are still here at school!). The existing artwork had some simple colors — early green and brown with a light blue sky above — painted on the concrete wall by the YIS caretakers, as well as many colorful ceramic sculptures adhered to the wall to evoke a landscape. These clay sculptures were created by kindergarten students (many of whom are now in Grade 6!).

In our ESA, the young artists decided to incorporate these clay sculptures into their new landscape idea, and so the ceramic pieces have been left intact. But it was decided that a better background picture could be created — something more interesting and representative of Japan. And so last year part of our Session 3 ESA time was spent preparing the wall by painting it with a permanent white paint, being careful not to cover the existing sculptures. The other part of our ESA time together was spent addressing the big challenge before us: What new image will we paint on the wall?

new mural illustration - photo by A.Reed

new mural illustration – photo by A.Reed

Realizing that the wall is part of our entire school and is for the enjoyment of the entire school community (students, teachers, parents, staff, and our visitors) the young artists had many discussions about what would be appropriate to represent. We focused the mural as a landscape with Japan as a theme, including incorporating a traditional Japanese pattern, and then — after much brainstorming and back and forth — finally voted for the five most important ideas to represent in the mural: Mt. Fuji, sakura, shinkansen, ocean waves, and cats.

Last year’s artists produced two proposed illustrations of what the mural might look like (see this blog post for details) and submitted their ideas via videos to some of the YIS administrators. By the end of last year, the Young Artists Group had their feedback and completed the illustrated design for the new mural.

Now this year’s new Young Artists Group has drawn the illustration onto the wall (using a laborious but accurate grid system) and has begun painting the colors.  Stay tuned for more updates!

1st Grade completes their Living Things sculptures

The 1st graders are now winding down their first unit, which was focused on the environment and the living things within it. It also had them consider the Central Idea that people have an impact on the environment, that many living creatures are affected by the decisions that human beings make about the environment. Each student finished turning his or her large 2-dimensional drawing & painting into a 3-dimensional sculpture, using scrap newspaper, staples, paint, and a variety of other materials.

All of these creatures are now displayed in the upstairs hallway outside the 1st grade classrooms in the K-1 building. The students hope you will come visit their jungle! And if you have your smartphone with you, click on the QR code displayed below each child’s sculpture and you will be able to hear each student’s critique of his or her artwork. The first graders are improving their ability to use technology to help them share their learning.

5th Graders communicate ideas about peace & conflict

Earlier in their homeroom classes, the 5th graders addressed the central idea that “conflict affects lives” by looking at how each student manages situations of conflict and interpersonal problems. And so in art class, we were taking this opportunity to create self-portraits that express each person’s understanding or belief about this theme.

Students chose two of three possible approaches — drawing, painting, collage — to communicating their particular belief or understanding about peace and conflict resolution. The students were also required to use text (words or sentences) in addition to imagery in their picture. Early on, students were instructed in ways of observing themselves in mirrors and depicting their faces by drawing, although the amount and type of drawing in this project is entirely up to each student (some chose to represent themselves realistically, others in an abstract manner, and others as a cartoon).

After completing their artworks, the students reflected on their ideas, their process, and their finished self-portraits, addressing the following prompts:

  • What are you communicating about peace and/or conflict in your drawing?
  • What are your symbols? What do they mean?
  • What did you learn by doing this project?
  • What could you have done better? What would you do differently if you could?

4th Graders complete & present their Ainu creations

After much preparation, planning, and hard work — in all their classes — the fourth graders finally completed their study of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan. In art class, the culmination of their efforts was the completion of their Ainu-inspired garments: large fabrics displaying abstract, symmetrical designs and patterns, using motifs based on some of those used by the Ainu in their traditional clothing and others created individually by the students themselves. Though some of the designs resemble thorns and swirls (“ayus” and “morew” in Ainu) like in a plant or vine, the students learned that the images are not representational and do not symbolize anything or have a particular message. Rather, they were interested to learn that the placement of the patterns they created (near the openings of their clothes) is intended to keep evil gods or spirits from gaining access to the Ainu’s bodies.

The students worked hard in practicing, planning, and developing their projects, beginning with sketching and drawing in their sketchbooks. Some patterns were created from colored cloth (which they traced, cut, and glued); others were drawn and colored with pastels and/or fabric paint. Some students used rulers in order to achieve perfect symmetry. Once completed, the students displayed their garments to their parents and classmates during their performance and sharing in the auditorium.

A short video clip of one of the Ainu dances, in which their garments were worn:

3rd Grade creates play props

Having brainstormed ideas for their drama performances — by pondering the questions: What do you need to plan a performance? and Visually, what best communicates your story to the audience? — the students worked in small groups for a few short weeks to discuss, plan, and build the primary (most important) props for their plays. The ideas and the execution of their plans were theirs alone, as they took complete responsibility for their artwork and their performances.

The plays were presented in December before the Winter Break, to great acclaim and applause. Congratulations, third graders, on your excellent collaborative work, on your risk-taking in creating objects you had never made before, and on your reflective and open-minded approach to your planning and your construction.

Some images of the students at work here… with more to come!