SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2014

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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schoolartsonline.com 33 Partnering with Graffiti Artists The more I looked into graffiti art in Los Angeles, the more I wanted to make this project a collaborative effort between working artists and my stu - dents. With the help of my colleagues, Maria Teresa Cardenas and Elena Macias, I was able to enlist local graffiti artist Jesse Hernandez and his friend, Tony (a.k.a. Pinster), to join the project. I asked Hernandez and Pinster to create an outline of each student's name. These talented artists devel- oped a unique style and tone for each outline, basing it on the personality of the student it represented. Once they were finished, the artists gave each student his or her outline. Personality through Color I decided to give students oil pastels for most of the coloring since they are easier to blend and shade with. They would use paint markers to define the lettering and apply highlights. Each student picked two main colors, then added a third to make the work more vivid. We recently had visiting art instructors from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art who taught students about warm colors, cool colors, and the color wheel. This made it easier for students to select colors that would blend well. Conveying Individuality Students added small details to their names based on their personalities and interests, including video game characters, favorite snacks, and favor- ite shapes and symbols. Each student's personality shone brightly through his or her artwork. One student said, "I made my name so I could hang it up in my room at home and it would say what I am like." I enjoyed seeing how students' young minds started to open up with sustained interest in the project. They would sit and study the way graffiti artists made letters and blended colors and would get excited when they came up with a great idea. Seeing six- and seven-year-olds work so diligently on a project was inspiring. Removing the Training Wheels When students finished their names, we hung them up on a wall in the school's annual art show. The partner- ship with real graffiti artists exceeded our expectations. Students liked the project so much that they wanted to do it again, but this time without the collaboration of street artists. "I feel like I can do it myself now," one girl stated. "You know, kind of like when you take off the training wheels on the bike. I'm ready to ride on my own. I am an artist now." Once again, I felt the graffiti talking to me and echoing back the personalities of my class. John Purcell is a first-grade teacher at the 32nd Street USC Magnet School in Los Angeles, California. drjohnpurcell@yahoo. com N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K S immortalstudios.net www.artofthestate.co.uk/Banksy/ banksy.htm Angel Barron, grade one. Gerson Segundo Jr., grade one.

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