On April 26 I had the pleasure of attending the Edinboro Elementary Art Show and Ice Cream Social. I attended a similar event at McKean in late January. These events are great opportunities for the school community to gather and celebrate the talents and growth of our students. (No, I just don’t go for the ice cream though, I do love it!)
Emily Robertson teaches art at both elementary schools and does a masterful job of tapping into students’ creativity in a framework that increases their awareness and appreciation of artistic elements.
In kindergarten, students participated in the “Bunny & Panda Love” project. It introduced them to printing by using a heart design as part of the faces. They were able to reinforce the elements of art they studied while improving their fine motor skills. Plus, they produced work that is gosh-darn adorable!
In first grade, students created their self portrait. Many artists do that in their career and it is revealing to see how they view themselves. This project also allowed them to experiment with oil pastels.
As I looked at these self-portraits, I realized I have never done one of myself. Although these first grade versions were rather rudimentary, I realized I probably could not do as good a job with my mug. I wouldn’t know where to begin. How to start? How to make it look real? I walked away grateful for the option of a selfie.
In second grade, students did a “Charley Harper & Vincent Van Gogh Mash-up Inspired Raccoons.” Yes, that is a mouth full! Charley Harper (1922-2007) was an American artist who grew up on his family farm in Cincinnati. He was fascinated by the wildlife he saw on the farm and in nature which led him to draw many animals. Vincent Van Gogh is, of course, the Impressionist painter famous for his “Starry Night” painting. Students combined elements from both artists focusing on shapes, color, pattern and textures to create raccoons. Though real raccoons aren’t real “lookers,” what the second graders produced were pretty cute.
Third graders also used Charley Harper’s work as inspiration for their projects. They experimented with texture, painting, drawing and collage to create very precious fawns. We’ve had fawns visit our yard many times over the years and the children did a great job capturing their whimsical and lovable nature.
The “big kids” of the elementary schools, the fourth graders, were challenged to think about what being patriotic meant to them. They then created portraits based on their thoughts. Afterward, they studied the American Artist, Jasper John and a work of his titled, “Flag.” Mrs. Robertson picked up on one of our strategic goals this year to increase patriotism among students and did a school-wide, “Flag Photo Booth.” Each student in the school made a star which became the building blocks of a very large flag. Mrs. Robertson shared that this project included students sharing their feelings on the “best thing about being American.” She noted that the dominant answer from the students is “freedom.” This project was used as an example of collaboration of individuals to come together and create one united masterpiece.
(Something we could use more of in our country right now.)
I’m very grateful to Mrs. Robertson and all the teachers, administrators and staff who make these evenings possible in all our buildings. The middle school had an Art Expo on March 20 and the high school will have their show on May 29.
These events are important for a number of reasons. Whenever we create something, we need to have an audience in mind. Giving these children these evening events does just that. Knowing their work will be on display also motivates the children to work.
As children grow, they only come to know where their gifts and passion lie by exposure to a variety of experiences. If they are only exposed to limited things, they will never fully know who they are. I love that General McLane offers so many varied experiences for students.
I’ve seen children grow in so many areas of their lives over the years. The cumulative result of this will be evident in the high school show on May 29th. Students who you more often have associated with success in the athletic, academic or musical arenas will have quality art work on display which you never knew was in that child’s wheelhouse. That is a testament to all the people along the way that helped these children discover the many facets and talents of their lives. That, is the essence of the McLane Advantage!