SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2009

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Point of View Connecting from the Inside Out Nan Hathaway F raming original, authentic children's art within the context of art history can provide powerful, relevant connections for student artists. Instead of starting with famous art "exemplars," try it the other way around! An alert art teacher is in a unique position to draw immediate, relevant connections between art history and the emergent art of children. In a student-centered classroom, individuals are encouraged to make discoveries, pursue their interests and follow their passions, just as adult artists do. Watch for opportunities to make comparisons and to relate your knowledge of art and artists for your students in response to their own pursuits. Drawing comparisons The young splatter artists in your classroom will relate to Jackson PolMichael, age nine, Exponential Dividing. lock. Students creating nonobjective paintings on large paper will no doubt be impressed to discover the paintthe use of media, subject matter, or ings of Helen Frankenthaler and Mark approach) to their students' original Rothko. Kinetic sculptors working artwork. Access to the Internet will with wire and movement will find multiply possibilities enormously, kindred spirits in the fanciful moving and when the computer is combined art of Alexanwith a projector, der Calder and the impact is Framing original, authentic Arthur Ganson. children's art within the context expanded for the When the benefit of the of art history can provide unique, authenwhole class. powerful, relevant connections tic artwork of The other students comes day, I observed for student artists. first, the art a first-grade teacher can facilitate personally relstudent engaged in painting a large evant connections to the past and to American flag with tempera paint significant visual culture of today. on an 18 x 24" (45 x 60 cm) paper. The result can be a meaningful expeWhen he was done, I was poised with rience targeted to individual learners. a reproduction of Jasper Johns' Three Flags (1958), and was able to show utilizing Resources this student that there was once By employing a library of books, another artist interested in painting magazines, and reproductions typical flags. of every art classroom, teachers can Recently, a nine-year-old student readily produce images for their stushowed me a computer graphics piece dent artists that bear resemblance (in he was working on. He had started 12 March 2009 SchoolArts with a square, then divided it in half, then divided that in half again. He repeated this process over and over, filling in each square with bright, primary colors. He titled it Exponential Dividing, and it bore a resemblance to the work of Piet Mondrian. I pulled out an art magazine containing several pictures of Mondrian's work, and together we pored over these pictures, noting similarities and differences. I am convinced that connections drawn in this way—between the original processes and products of students, and the larger art world— produce powerful, personally meaningful understanding of art history and contemporary art, far beyond any traditional art history lesson I have offered in the past. Nan Hathaway is the fine arts focus teacher at Rocky Mountain School for the Gifted and Creative, an independent, pre-K–8 school in Boulder, Colorado, and is a member of the Teaching for Artistic Behavior Partnership. nanh@who.net

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