"Who knew perspective could be so fun?!" This is one of my favorite quotes from art class so far this year. I heard it in Lower Elementary during an experimental class where students were trying out new drawing and painting techniques, and several were delighting in practicing their newly learned skills in depicting one point perspective.
These are the moments we all strive for together each week in art class - when vision, capability and experimentation merge and reveal the magic of creation.
During our first semester we learned about artistic traditions and artists from the Pacific coast of Canada, Mexico, ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, England, France, Catalonia and Scandinavia. During morning work cycles, students have enjoyed investigating artistic studies from all angles and all around the world. We tried our hand at reproducing ancient Sumerian cylinder seals, discussed why leaves change to warm colors in the fall or how ancient Egyptians created the first synthetic blue pigments. Students located the origins of various artworks on world maps, pondered the first human artistic endeavors, built a model of Stonehenge out of homemade clay, and tried their hand at perspective drawing.Together, our art journey has taken us across the globe and through time.
One of the highlights for students this fall was our study of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos and its colorful, visual iconography. We studied the Mexican illustrator and printer José Guadalupé Posada (1852-1913). Posada's etching techniques and his printed illustrations of calaveras (skeletons) remain some of the most iconic images of Día De Muertos celebrations today, the most famous being "La Catrina".
Lower Elementary students practiced etching and printing - a technique that never fails to inspire wonder. The simple act of inking and then instantaneously revealing a reverse image of your efforts is always met with wide-eyed delight! They also meticulously etched decorative details into hand-made clay skulls.
Upper Elementary experienced a full celebration of the holiday with a field trip to the Mexican Cultural Institute, followed by our own classroom celebration. Our tour of the institute offered a wonderful opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a world of Mexican art - both old and new. In addition to the elaborate altars and contemporary artworks on display specifically for Día de los Muertos, students also got to take in the three-story mural depicting major events in Mexican history that dominates the Mexican Cultural Institute's interior. The Institute also includes a gallery space where we observed a diverse range of contemporary Mexican artworks. Upon returning to school the students painted plaster masks inspired by traditional Mexican designs. They relished and whole-heartedly embraced the messy challenge of making plaster molds of each other's faces.
Another favorite day for Upper Elementary was our "Creativity Workshop" where students were given the freedom to create whatever they could in half an hour with an assortment of materials and tools. Ingenuity, creativity, frustration and personality were on full display!
It has been a fantastic fall semester and I look forward to expanding our studies into Africa and Asia and experimenting with more ways to study art together!