Grade 5’s journey into Aesthetics

The Grade 5 students spent nearly 2 months focusing on AESTHETICS and the central idea that aesthetic expression can be influenced by a culture’s history and values.

Looking at how traditions are related across genres and over time and at how local traditions are similar and different to one’s home culture, the students focused initially on Japan. Concepts such as “wabi-sabi” (beauty in imperfection, hidden & transient beauty) and “ma” (space, such as the space in between sounds) were focal points, as were various Japanese arts which students were able to explore and research according to their interests.

In art class, this How We Express Ourselves unit began and ended with each student defining the word “beauty” for him/herself. On that first day, the students were presented with a pile of trash and discarded stuff and challenged to “make something beautiful”. Here are the results:

In the intervening weeks, students engaged in a variety of activities, culminating in each student’s presentation of an original work of art or design:

  • Explored an interactive PowerPoint experience (“Japanese Arts & Aesthetic Exploration”) to pursue the traditional Japanese arts they wanted to learn more about: calligraphy, ceramics, flower arranging/ikebana, tea ceremony, architecture, dolls, paper folding/origami, painting, gardens, sculpture, printmaking/ukiyo-e.
  • Two engaging visits from the artists Shoichi & Colleen Sakurai, who (1) introduced the students to the concept of “wabi sabi” and kicked-off their Wabi Sabi Project — creating wearable art from found and discarded materials — and (2) returned to assist the students’ in creating their projects.
  • Experimentation with specific Media, Tools, and Processes in art class, to be used in the creation of their Wabi Sabi Art.

Photos of Shoichi & Colleen’s presentation…

…and the children working with Shoichi & Colleen (and their amazing power tools!)

The Aesthetics unit culminated with the children’s presentation of their own wabi-sabi projects. Projects created from random trash and discarded objects included: handbags, a rain-protective bike helmet, picture frames, hats, a dartboard, a dress, a Christmas ornament, a sun-powered lamp, a candlelit lamp, a game, a cooking apron, a baby’s toy, necklaces, an ornamental wall hanging, a ring/jewelry, and a lot more. As the students presented their creations to the audience, a partner read their self-reflection which described their process, their materials, and their inspiration.

Presentation photos (above) credit: Ed Lemery

This unit of study is a one on which nearly all the Grade 5 teachers (homeroom, arts, and Japanese) collaborated. It has been an enlightening and engaging experience for students and teachers alike. We’ll end with some of the students’ recent definitions of ‘beauty’:

  • “Beauty is the thing made by human that made with person’s feeling and time.”
  • “Beauty is something that is pleasing to the eye and makes you feel good.”
  • “Beauty is something that makes you love nature.”
  • “Beauty is something that expresses someone’s opinions through simplicity.”
  • “Beauty is a combination of shapes, lines, and colors which is aesthetically pleasing.”

Grade 4 graphic designers create campaign posters

The Grade 4 students have completed their campaign posters, from a collaborative unit which focused on the central idea that the media can influence thinking and behavior. The students worked in small groups to develop their own media campaign on a subject of their choosing. In art class, the students learned about Contrast, Unity, and Balance as principles of design, and they used these guidelines to help them create a visual display (e.g. a campaign poster) to communicate their goal for their campaign. The students made much progress in learning how to communicate visually using Contrast, Unity, and Balance to create a simple, clear message with text and images.

Have a look at the students at work:

This year our Grade 4 graphic designers relied on both traditional tools (pencil & paper) and contemporary tools (laptops & digital apps) to help them to create their posters. Student had the choice of using their own drawings, photos they took themselves, and/or photos found with Creative Commons or other appropriate search tools. Creating and combining text & imagery with Google Drawing, the students were able to work collaboratively to achieve varied levels of successful visual communication through good contrast, unity, balance, and interesting imagery.

Both the students’ rough draft designs and their final version were shared with their peers globally on the website Creatubbles, where students both at YIS and in other schools worldwide could view and comments on their graphic design work. Our Grade 4 students used some of the constructive feedback to help them improve their visual communication. See the students’ work in these two galleries (you’ll need to join Creatubbles first, but it’s easy and free to do so): Gr.4 Rough Draft Posters and Gr.4 Final Posters.

The students’ final posters have been printed in color and being exhibited in the stairwell display area in the K-1 building. Ultimately, the goals for the Grade 4 art students were for them to provide constructive criticism when responding to an artwork, to recognize that different audiences respond in different ways to artwork, and to show an awareness of the affective power of the visual arts.

Grade 5 begins the search for BEAUTY

The Grade 5 students have begun Unit 4 a little early in art class. The focus of this unit is the central idea that aesthetic expression can be influenced by a culture’s history and values. And so in art class we have begun with a provocation revolving around the idea of ‘beauty’.

The students spent the first 20 minutes of class faced with the challenge to “create something beautiful” from: 1. a large pile of old stuff, junk, and unused items piled on the table, 2. some tools (scissors, staplers, tape, glue), and 3. their own notion of what ‘beauty’ is. Upon completion of that abbreviated challenge, the students wrote down their own personal definitions of ‘beauty’ in their sketchbooks (their ideas are listed after the photos, below). And finally — looking ahead to the visit next week from artists Shoichi & Colleen Sakurai — the students perused www.shoichi-sakurai.com, exploring questions such as: Who is Shoichi Sakurai? What does he create? How does he create it? Some students wrote questions and comments to Shoichi through his website. The children seem intrigued, excited, and curious to meet the artists next week.

5Q
Beauty is something that makes you happy. – Julian
Beauty is the steps of life. Like how we change both mentally and physically as a person. – Troy
Beauty is something people want or something they adore. – Ben
For me beauty is colorful, happy, smiley. Beauty is happy. – Thiago
Something people like, something people want to see, something people think cool, that there is balance. – Ryo
Beauty means that you make something is nice for everyone. – Kiko
Beauty mean it should good contrast, unity, and balance. – Sharan
To express your love or opinion on something through art or anything else. – Polina
Beauty is something you really like. – Taiki
Beauty is something that when you see it, it makes you happy. – Gala
I think beauty means something that makes people inspired. Also I think it means there’s a reason why it’s beauty. – Eileen
Beauty is looking pretty on the outside but more importantly feeling pretty on the inside. – Juliet
Beauty is something that you love or like from your heart. Beauty is something happy looking at it. – Taka
Beauty means something that looks amazing and something nice and something that catches your eye. – Aika
Beauty is something good to look at admire. – Karthik
Something you are pleased to look at. – Daniil

5F
Beauty is what it is fantastic. Something that you think is wonderful. – Sojiro
I think that beauty means 3 things. I think the first is nature. Nature is beautiful in its own way, the trees and flowers and other things. The second is people who wear makeup and big puffy dresses have their own beauty. The third is everybody. Everybody is beautiful in their own way. Its also other things. – Oscar
Beauty is something/someone that is nice and something I like looking at for me. – Mitsuki
Beauty means to me that something is pretty and balanced like a good piece of art. – Issey
Beauty is like beautiful flowers, and like butterfly. – Jun
I think beauty is interesting and nice looking. – Jungsu
Beauty is something that is aesthetically pleasing and it depends on the person. It means to me as something that I’m happy with. – Theo
Beauty for me is greenery with flowers that smell “beautiful”. I think beauty is peace, quietness, and nature. – Aya
I think beauty means love. Beauty is my heart, my everything. – Kento
Beauty means dreams, flowers, nature. – Azami
Flowers, architecture are beautiful. Beauty = beautiful. – Harold
I think beauty means something you like. – Le Le
Beauty has a lot of meanings. My beauty meaning is a awesome, pretty person, artwork, animal, gems. – Simon
Beauty is when something is or flowers or people that is cute. – Ken
Beauty is when something is nice or wonderful. Flowers, sun, colors. For me all those things are beautiful. For me art is beautiful. – Ingrid
Beauty means something that you really like seeing and looks really good. Opposite of ugly. – Julia

5W
I think that beauty is something that on the outside can make someone happy and sometimes light up the room or the world, and on the inside kindness, and someone that can think of others more than themselves. – Leylia
When something looks out of the ordinary. – Jack
Beauty is something pretty and sweet looking and cute. – Khadija
Beauty is something that is nice. Beauty is something amazing and wonderful. – Hemal
Beauty is something that is not ugly. – Taiga
Something that is cute and pretty and that stands out to you. – Lisa
Opposite of ugly. Nice. – Colin
Beauty means something cute or opposite of ugly. – Vincent
I think beauty is something nice and clean and neat. – Ryuta
Beauty is something pretty and cute. The opposite of beauty is ugly. Nature is beautiful. – Mai
Beauty is something pretty and pettit and nice. – Ellenah
Having a significant amount of prettiness, having the qualities of what you think is pretty. – Toshimi
I think beauty is looking good. – Luis
Beauty is something that grabs attention of someone. Beauty is something that someone likes. Beauty is something amazing. – Anish
Something that is cute. Something that is amazing. – Alicia
I think beauty is something you make or it’s already is something colorful. – Alvin

Our journey into beauty, aesthetics, and culture continues!

Grade 4 graphic designers create campaign posters

The 4th graders have completed their campaign posters, from a collaborative unit which focused on the central idea that the media can influence thinking and behavior. The students worked in small groups to develop their own media campaign on a subject of their choosing. In art class, the students learned about Contrast, Unity, and Balance as principles of design, and they used these guidelines to help them create a visual display (e.g. a campaign poster) to communicate their goal for their campaign. The students made much progress in learning how to communicate visually using Contrast, Unity, and Balance to create a simple, clear message with text and images.

Have a look at the students at work:

Students did not rely on digital tools to help them to create their final posters. Instead the boys & girls made their posters in a more “traditional” manner: by hand, using pencils, rulers, paper, colored pencils, and/or markers. Both the students’ rough draft designs and their final version were shared with their peers globally on the website Creatubbles, where students both at YIS and in other schools worldwide could view and comments on their graphic design work. Our Grade 4 students used some of the constructive feedback to help them improve their visual communication. See the students’ work in the Grade 4 Art+Media Gallery (you’ll need to join Creatubbles first, but it’s easy and free to do so).

You may also view the results here — the campaign posters created by these young graphic designers:

Ultimately, the goals for the Grade 4 art students were for them to provide constructive criticism when responding to an artwork, to recognize that different audiences respond in different ways to artwork, and to show an awareness of the affective power of the visual arts.

Grade 5’s journey into Aesthetics

The Grade 5 students spent nearly 2 months focusing on AESTHETICS and the central idea that aesthetic expression can be influenced by a culture’s history and values.

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Looking at how traditions are related across genres and over time and at how local traditions are similar and different to one’s home culture, the students focused initially on Japan. Concepts such as “wabi-sabi” (beauty in imperfection, hidden beauty) and “ma” (space, such as the space in between sounds) were focal points, as were various Japanese arts which students were able to explore and research according to their interests.

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

In art class, the unit began and ended with each student defining the word “beauty” for him/herself. In the intervening weeks, students engaged in a variety of activities:

  • Two engaging visits from the artists Shoichi & Colleen Sakurai, who (1) introduced the students to the concept of “wabi sabi” and kicked-off their Wabi Sabi Project — creating wearable art from found and discarded materials — and (2) returned to witness the students’ Wabi Sabi Fashion Show several weeks later.
  • Experimented with specific Media, Tools, and Processes in art class, to be used in the creation of their Wabi Sabi Art.
  • Explored an interactive PowerPoint experience (“Japanese Arts & Aesthetic Exploration”) to pursue the traditional Japanese arts they wanted to learn more about: calligraphy, ceramics, flower arranging/ikebana, tea ceremony, architecture, dolls, paper folding/origami, painting, gardens, sculpture, printmaking/ukiyo-e.
  • An Art+Music collaboration: students connected the experience of listening to music (various woodwinds, Japanese/non-Japanese) to the act of visual creation (painting, sculpture). The art was created in art class, then discussed and critiqued in music class with their koto teacher (see more about the Japanese koto here).
  • A visit from some Grade 9 art students, who presented their own research and learning about ‘aesthetics’, ‘wabi-sabi’, Shoichi Sakurai, and Japanese arts. These students also presented their art research workbooks so as to display their working process to the Grade 5 students.
  • The creation of ceramic vessels: after exploring some Japanese “living national treasures” (see this online resource for traditional clay artwork), the students created their own clay vessels based on the various forms and designs/colors found in these traditional Japanese ceramics. The idea was for the students to become part of a historical tradition, using an ancient, natural, local material — clay — to create a basic object which has a long tradition in Japan (ceramic vessels, like teacups, bowls, vases).
  • And all-day visit to Sankeien Gardens field trip, as the culminating event of the unit. This visit included a presentation and exhibition by the photographer Everett Kennedy Brown, the opportunity to use photography to capture elements of beauty through the eyes and lens of the students, and the creation of a haiku poem using the surrounding environment as an influence.
Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

This arts-driven unit of study was a new unit on which nearly all the Grade 5 teachers (homeroom, arts, and Japanese) collaborated. It has been a very enlightening and engaging experience for students and teachers alike. With both students and teachers having provided one another with constructive feedback, we look forward to developing the unit in more depth next year.

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

The 2015 YAMATE ART EXHIBITION

The annual Yamate Art Exhibition has begun!

The exhibition runs from Saturday February 14 to Monday February 23 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 23.

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.

There are 114 elementary school artists in this year’s show, so do come visit the Y.I.S. student gallery and see the energy, efforts, and two- & three-dimensional creativity of our Kindergarten through Grade 5 students!

 

Grade 3 plans, constructs, and creates a performance

Grade 3 students (and their teachers) have been collaborating intensively for several weeks with a focus on the central idea that performance engages an audience and invites a response.

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 and as a whole class to discuss, plan, and build the primary props, set pieces, and backdrop imagery 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, as well as for planning how to get their materials to the auditorium for the day of the play.

Two plays — one by 3L and another by 3M — were presented in December before the Winter Break, to great acclaim and applause. Congratulations, Grade 3 artists and designers, 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!

Grade 5 Exhibition: The many ways people express themselves

The Grade 5 students worked diligently over several weeks in preparation for their culminating PYP unit, the Exhibition. Each student (having identified and chosen a particular interest or passion) worked to research, develop, express, and present some aspect of his/her interest to the school community.

In art class, the focus was on exploring the many different ways that human beings express themselves. After brainstorming over 40 different ideas, the students broke their long list into categories of “two-dimensional”, “three-dimensional”, and “other”. And so from the various two- and three-dimensional ideas, students began to think about appropriate, interesting, and eye-catching ways of visually displaying their knowledge at the exhibition.

In this unit, the Grade 5 students reflected on the factors that influence personal reactions to artwork and became increasingly independent in the realization of the creative process as they selected, researched, and developed an idea or theme for an artwork.

Grade 2 student illustrate and bind their personal storybooks

The Second Graders worked in their homeroom classes on creating storybooks — written, illustrated, and published by each student individually — based on the central idea that stories can be constructed, retold, and interpreted in different ways.

In art class, the students focused on how to communicate their stories visually through the illustrations which accompany the text on each page. By examining and reading a number of different storybooks, the students observed and discussed that there is a relationship between the pictures and words on a single page.  They also observed and came to understand that the illustrations can be greatly varied yet need enough detail to show the action, the important events of the story.

In this unit of study, the Second Grade art students focused on sharpening their powers of observation and on considering their audience when creating artwork. They began the visual aspect of their books by planning: creating storyboards with thumbnail sketches to show the basic progression of images.  And after many weeks of work writing & editing their stories (in their homeroom classes) and illustrating & hand-binding (in art class), the students published their books and held their book launch for parents on Friday April 25.

If you were not able to attend the Breakfast Book Launch, ask a Grade 2 student to see his or her storybook. They are fantastic: very personal and unlike any stories you’ve read before!

 

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!