The kindergarten artists identify themselves visually

The kindergarten art students have begun the year with a focus on themselves — as learners and as creators! It is part of their current unit in which they focus on the central idea that “personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities.”

Falling under the transdisciplinary theme Where We Are In Place And Time, the kindergarteners begin by constructing self-portraits in the form — not of faces but — of crowns. We’ve discussed what kind of creative work the children did last year in ELC and about the new artwork they will create this year in kindergarten. Students are being challenged to turn a long piece of white paper into a 3-dimensional crown and to transform it into something that represents themselves, their interests, their abilities. At the same time, the crown is a physical space on and with which the children can explore and experiment. Additionally, learning about this new art studio environment — the many different materials and tools, where they are stored, how we work together to make and to clean up our projects — is a big part of this early part of the new school year.

Kindergarten crowns in-progress

The learning objectives of the unit have the children strive to enjoy experiencing artworks, to show curiosity and ask questions about artworks, and to realize that their artwork has meaning. As young artists, we are focused on the notion that artistic development reflects people’s personal histories and is a dynamic creative process. Much of our time thus far has been spent talking about the children’s own experiences thus far in creating artwork and projects (at home, in ELC, with Ms. Brown or Ms. May), reading and discussing storybooks and illustrations, and exploring a wide variety of skills, processes, materials, and tools.

Already, the similarities, differences, preferences, strengths, and unique qualities of the kindergarten students are becoming evident in this first visual art project of 2014-15.

1st Graders’ Family Portraits

In their homeroom classes the 1st graders studied how one’s family history provides insight into one’s own personal identity, and in art class the students drew and then painted their self-/family-portraits. Each student developed the background of his/her picture by adding imagery from the memory of family events or from knowledge of his/her family’s history.

Created in response to a range of stimuli (photos, storybooks, conversations, sharing of personal experiences), students made personal connections to their artworks as they developed. The task proved challenging as the students had to determine how to represent, visually, what they envision in their minds and what they can discuss verbally.

See the students at work, below, shortly before the completion of these family portraits. Each student used his/her portrait as a talking point during the Student Led Conferences to discuss his/her personal family history.

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:

Kindergarten artists explore materials, processes, and passions

Our initial central idea in kindergarten this year is that “personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities.” Another of our central ideas is that “materials can be manipulated to suit a purpose”. In art class over the past few weeks, we have been addressing both of these notions as the children have expressed their desires in how to progress with their work.

So, in art class, we’re addressing both ideas across a few different projects: paper crowns, plasticine sculptures, and masks.

We’re taking the time to:

1. to look at, question, enjoy experiencing, discuss the various types of three-dimensional works made by other artists (looking at pictures, watching videos, and examining others’ artworks);

2. to identify the materials and processes other artists use in the creation of their artworks;

3. to realize that our artwork has meaning;

4. to experiment with some different materials that can be used to create artwork (recently, we looked at, touched with our hands, and then used: paper, felt, burlap, paper straws, ribbon, wire, pipe cleaners, foam, string, uncooked pasta, scissors, glue, tape, staplers, hole punches, colored pencils, watercolor paints, markers, and pastels.

5. to explore the various processes that artists can employ with these materials and tools to create what they envision and to discover new ideas.

Through this exploration and by making decisions for themselves, the young students are creating original 3-D artworks — crowns of widely different designs, sculptures of people, animals, fictional characters, and various objects of interest to the children, and masks (an idea thought up by Ms. Zoe’s class with a very specific purpose, but don’t tell Ms. Zoe because it’s a surprise).

Grade 4 artists create their personal Ainu garments

The Grade 4 students began the year discussing and creating patterns, noting that patterns are things (shapes, pictures, lines, motifs) that repeat in a regular manner. These activities were a warm-up toward creating the art project of their first unit: a study of Ainu culture. The unit’s central idea is that people continue to migrate for many reasons. The students have been studying the Ainu’s clothing design as a method of developing designs of their own to use to create wearable garments during their presentation for their parents. Our concept focus in art class is ‘change’: how the study of another culture’s artwork can affect and alter one’s own ideas and art.

The students designs are inspired by the actual garments worn by the Ainu people of northern Japan. Students have been looking at patterns — both those of their own creation and also that 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 students noted similarities in all the Ainu clothing: patterns which are symmetrical and abstract, and which always occur at the openings of the garments (ask your favorite Grade 4 student to explain why!!).

The children are using their sketchbooks to plan their ideas and are now beginning to construct the garments. They 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 paper stencils to make colored cloth motifs, which are then glued onto variously-colored muslin cloth (white, brown, black, grey, or dark blue) to bring their own 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 12th 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.

Grade 2 artists create culturally-specific clay sculptures

The Grade 2 students have been focused on the central idea that people can be enriched by their own cultures and the cultures they connect with throughout their lives. In art class we are focused on the personal connections the children make through their cultural celebrations.

The Grade 2 art students are creating clay sculptures: original artifacts of each student’s experience in reflecting on a cultural celebration that he/she experiences with family (and/or friends).  Having chosen a particular person whom the student associates with this cultural celebration, the children are beginning to move from the practice (play dough) stage to the final (clay) stage of their sculptures.

The students have used these two videos to assist them in their work and to allow them to work at their own pace, accessing the desired instruction as needed. The first video focuses on the basic head, eyes, nose, and mouth forms:

The second video addresses additional details such as the teeth, lips, eyelids/eyelashes/eyebrows:

And — as the human nose seemed to be the most challenging facial feature to model — a third video was created later, as it became apparent that some students needed alternative approaches to sculpting a nose:

Once having modeled and carved a head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, and the related details in clay, the students’ sculptural heads will each be attached to a clay base, engraved with a name, bisque-fired, glazed in color, and finally glaze-fired.  The artworks will unfortunately not be completed in time for display at the Cross Cultural Lunch on Friday October 4; however, photographs of their works-in-progress will be showcased there.

Here are some images of the students at work in art class:
(unfortunately, FLICKR slideshows are not compatible with phone/tablet displays)

The children are looking forward to sharing their artwork with their parents at the Cross Cultural Lunch!

Kindergarten artists identify themselves visually

The kindergarten art students have begun the year with a focus on themselves! It is part of their current unit in which they focus on the central idea that “personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities.”

Falling under the transdisciplinary theme Where We Are In Place And Time, the kindergarteners begin by constructing self-portraits in the form — not of faces but — of crowns. We’ve discussed what kind of creative work the children did last year in ELC and about the new artwork the will create this year in kindergarten. Students are being challenged to turn a long piece of white paper into a 3-dimensional crown and to transform it into something that represents themselves, their interests, their abilities. Learning about this new art studio environment — the many different materials and tools, where they are stored, how we work together to make and to clean up our projects — is a big part of this early part of the new school year.

The learning objectives of the unit have the children strive to enjoy experiencing artworks, to show curiosity and ask questions about artworks, and to realize that their artwork has meaning. Much of our time thus far has been spent talking about the children’s own experiences thus far in creating artwork and projects (at home, in ELC, with Ms. Brown or Ms. Zoe), reading and discussing storybooks and illustrations, and exploring a wide variety of skills, processes, materials, and tools.

Already, the similarities, differences, preferences, strengths, and unique qualities of the kindergarten students are becoming evident in this first visual art project of 2013-14.

First week of Art Class in 2013-14

The beginning week of school is behind us, and most of the ES students have come to the art studio for the first time. Kindergarten and Grade 1 will have their first class starting in Week 2, although some of the kindergarten students were kind enough to come upstairs to meet Mr. Reed and to see their new art studio.

Grades 2 – 5 enjoyed the incredible picture book ‘Chalk’ (see it in the YIS Library!) and then each had a warm-up art activity to get their brains and eyes and hands ready for the upcoming Unit 1 projects. Grade 2 worked with plasticine (playdough) in anticipation of their ‘Where We Are In Place And Time’ clay portrait project. Grade 3 were challenged to create paper sculptures as they prepare for their ‘Who We Are’ 3-D sculptural project. Grade 4 played with abstract designs in creating patterns as they look forward to their ‘Where We Are In Place And Time’ wearable fabric project. And Grade 5 drew two self-portraits (one with a mirror and one without) in preparation for their ‘Sharing The Planet’ project on conflict resolution.

You can see some of the children at work here over the past several days:

1st Graders complete their Family Portraits

In their homeroom classes the 1st graders studied how one’s family history provides insight into one’s own personal identity, and the students finished drawing & painting their self-/family-portraits. Each student developed the background of his/her picture by adding imagery from the memory of family events or from knowledge of his/her family’s history. The task proved challenging as the students had to determine how to represent, visually, what they envision in their minds and can discuss verbally.

See the students’ artwork, below, shortly before the completion of these family portraits. Or, if you would like to hear some examples — in the students’ own voices — of their family histories, click on the Twitter feed to the right and select the students whose comments you would like to hear (scroll down until you find the student you’re looking for).

1st Graders focus on their family histories

Aligned with the first graders’ homeroom study of how one’s family history provides insight into one’s own personal identity, the students have finished drawing & painting their self-portraits and are now transforming them into family portraits.  Each student is developing the background of his/her picture by adding imagery from the memory of family events or from knowledge of his/her family’s history (which the students have been discussing with Ms. Robidoux and Ms. Saito).

The task is proving challenging as the students must determine how to represent, visually, what they envision in their minds and can discuss verbally.  See some of the students, below, as they work to develop their family portraits.