Yamate Art Exhibition 2012-13: E.S. art students on display!

The Yamate Art Exhibition is on!

A number of our elementary school art students have their artwork exhibited now in the annual Yamate Art Show: February 15 – 26 at Bluff No. 111 (Yamanote Ichibankan 111, tel. 045-623-2957) from 9:30-17:00 daily, 9:30-12:00 on Feb 26.

This art show is part of the Yokohama Yamate Art Festival and includes the artwork of students from several schools in the Yamate area, on view in other galleries located at: Bluff No. 234, Berrick Hall (St. Maur), Bluff No. 18, Diplomat’s House, and Osaragi Jiro Memorial Museum.

Do come visit the Y.I.S. student gallery at Bluff No. 111 and see the energy, efforts, and two- & three-dimensional creativity of our Kindergarten through Grade 5 artists! If you can’t, see the images below for a sampling of what you’re missing!

4th Grade returns to work on their tessellations

Having completed their projects (wearable patterned garments) for their Ainu unit and performances, the 4th graders used the final weeks of Semester 1 to focus on their tessellations, the project they began at the beginning of the year. Before creating their Ainu garments, the students examined patterns and tessellations, specifically the artwork of M.C. Escher, a Dutch artist who was inspired in his cross-European travels to Southern (Moorish) Spain.

Now they are returning to this tessellation project, in which they have created individual motifs (shapes) and repeated them to create interlocking, puzzle-like patterns across the entire surface of their papers. The creative aspect of the project comes with each student having to decide how to transform these repeated shapes into something visually interesting and/or recognizable, something reflecting the interest of each student.

Some examples of their work are seen here:

4th Graders finish their Ainu-inspired garments, perform for parents, & reflect on themselves as learners

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:

4th Grade continues constructing their Ainu-inspired garments

The 4th Graders have been working hard on turning their plans for individual, Ainu-inspired garments into reality.  Based on their sketchbook designs, the students have been using colored cloth, fabric pastels, and fabric paint on tan-colored muslin cloth to bring their symmetrical, abstract designs to life.  It has not been easy to translate small, colored pencil designs on paper to large, cloth patterns, but the students have persevered and hope to have their garments ready for their November 14th presentation — during which they will wear their garments during a performance celebrating the learning about the Ainu they have been doing thus far this year.

4th Grade begins constructing their Ainu-inspired garments

These symmetrical and abstract designs are inspired by the actual garments worn by the Ainu people of northern Japan.  Students have been looking at patterns and tessellations — specifically the artwork of M.C. Escher, a Dutch artist who was inspired in his cross-European travels to Southern (Moorish) Spain — and they are basing their designs on the various motifs used in Ainu culture and are also adding an original motif of each student’s own design.  The children are using their sketchbooks to plan their ideas and are now constructing the garments out of fabric.


Previously, the students began creating their own, personalized tessellations based on Escher’s artwork. The students saw various examples of the work Escher did before and after his cross-cultural journey, such as these. In beginning their own tessellations, the students watched this instructional video to learn a method of creating a patterns of unique interlocking shapes: