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Are you sm-art-er that a fifth grader?                                             

October 25, 2010





Back in the mid-1990s I spent some time volunteering each year with an annual art show and series of free workshops for students at a local grammar school.  It was a fun weekend festival, free and open to the public; kids took a try at drawing, painting, printmaking and other creative outlets.  I recently found photos from one year when an art show was hung in the gym.  The works were enlarged paintings by Klee, De Chirico, and Van Gogh from each of the art classes taught by the same full-time art teacher at that school.  These were done by kids in the fifth grade.

The teacher took color copies of famous works of art with a lot of color and cut them into equal sections, giving a rectangular section to each student.  Using tempera paint and working on big pieces of paper, each student had to enlarge and reproduce the little rectangle they received.  They did not know why they were doing this or what the purpose was, they were told they needed to make their painting resemble the small rectangular section they had.  Each student worked on their painting until completion, then the teacher laid out all of the finished paintings together in order and showed them what they had made, then she showed the children the original painting it was in imitation of.

Taped up to the walls of a gymnasium, under the basketball hoops and against the padded walls, these collage recreations looked fantastic!  Adults were amazed that the children had made them.  They were very big and detailed. Each recreation was 4’ x 6’ [1.22 x 1.8 meters] in size or larger.

The kids had some hands on experience drawing, handling paint and matching colors; they got to look closely at details of a famous painting and learn about art history with this project.  The kids were really excited to show their projects to friends and family and the art teacher was marveled at for her genius.  It looked to me like everyone involved felt like a rock star that day.


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