Thursday, October 6, 2016

Art Teacher Finds: Spokane Schools!

A few weeks ago, my family and I traveled to Washington state for a long overdue visit with family. We flew into Spokane International Airport, and I received the best welcome an art teacher could hope for! As we walked wearily jet-lagged from a full day of flying, we noticed some large glass display cases up ahead.

 As we got closer, I could see that the top of the cases read "Artwork by our Students" and "Spokane Public Schools." Inside were wonderful pieces made by middle school students: sculptures, altered books, collages and more.

Thank you to the middle school students of Spokane Schools, and to their art teachers! And thank you to the Spokane community for sharing the art of your children with all of us weary travelers. A little recognition for the arts goes a long way!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ceramic Cactus Gardens & Frida Kahlo

These ceramic cactus gardens were inspired by Hope Knight at Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists. It was a wonderful project for My 5th graders, as it puts their prior knowledge of coils, pinch pots, attaching pieces through the score and slip method, and glazing to good use.

I wanted to tie the cactus project into another lesson, since on the east coast we don’t live in the desert. Its not an easy 'connection to nature' experience for my kids, unless you count a vacation etc. I wasn’t sure about it until I visited a wonderful exhibit of Frida Kahlo’s work, and the re-creation of her gardens and outdoor studio at the New York Botanical Garden that I knew exactly how I wanted to proceed. We began by looking at the works of Frida Kahlo, and how she included her love of the natural world into her paintings, and her life at La Casa Azul

Our first work day was spent creating coil pinch pots, which the children could make into various shapes. Then into baggies with their name/class until next time. The second class I demonstrated some basic cactus forms, and a simple bloom. They worked on their plants, and into a second baggie they went. The final steps were to attach the cacti to the bottom of the pots, to draw or carve details to the plant life and container, and to add gravel to the bare areas around the base of the plants. They could glaze their pieces with realistic or non-realistic colors, but had to use at least three!

To display the gardens at school, I was inspired by the Aztec-inspired pyramid which was a prominent feature of her garden. So I backed the display case with blue paper, and pictures of Frida Kahlo, her work and gardens.

Then to create the pyramid, which gave the exhibit some nice height, I just covered some copy paper boxes with yellow bulletin board paper, and there you have it! Aztec pyramid!