SchoolArts Magazine

November 2017

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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around Charleston, full of Southern cuisine, a slower pace of life, and gor- geous landscapes carved by water- ways. The artwork of Jonathan Green pays tribute to this unique part of the U.S. and the Gullah-Geechie culture in which he was raised. As a child of the Lowcountry, Green found out quickly that he was gifted in the arts. Before he even began grade school, he sold drawings out of his grandmother's nightclub and to other elders of his community. While in school, he would visit his relatives in Harlem and was inspired by the visual stimulation of the city. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where he originally studied fashion design, but switched to painting. After graduating in 1982, Green traveled the world and met artists from all over who told him the same thing—paint what you know. So he did just that. Celebratory Art Green's work celebrates the disappear- ing Gullah culture, which emerged a mong the West African slaves who lived on the Sea Islands along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. With bright bold colors in acrylic, he paints people of color working in everyday rural life in the fields, fishing, dancing, swinging from trees, doing laundry, and going to church. Women wear - ing large, printed dresses and wide- brimmed sun hats are often seen as his signature look. These women are shown as strong, happy women; in part this characterization celebrates the life of the person who influenced him the most, his grandmother. In essence, his artwork demonstrates a sense of pride in his heritage and the community from where he came. Creating the Little Library After our research, students met once a week for three months, choosing artwork, sketching the design, and painting the Little Library. During the process, we spoke with students about their aspirations on becoming artists. It seemed that by giving back to the community through this proj- ect, students learned that art could reach many people in ways that they had not thought of in the past. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony This solidified for one student in par- ticular as she proudly stated at the r ibbon cutting ceremony, "I am an artist!" Indeed, she and the other students had arrived for their artistic debut as they made their aspirations of being artists into a reality through this community project. Much like Johna - than Green, this group of young artists f ound that by celebrating community, they could have tremendous power to promote the arts and the visual per - ceptions and heritage of the people w ho live within their community. Erin Russell is an art teacher at Memminger Ele- mentary School in Charleston, South Carolina. e rin_russell@charleston.k12.sc.us. Tracey Hunter- Doniger teaches art education at the College of Charleston. hunterdonigertl@cofc.edu N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Presenting: Interpreting and sharing artistic work. W E B L I N K S www.jonathangreenstudios.com/ www.littlefreelibrary.org/ B iving back to the communit through this project, students learned that art could reach man eople in wa s that the ad not thought of in the past. Left: Anyone can take a book, leave a book, or both at this Little Library, a signifcant contribution from Memminger's sixth-grade art club. SCHOOLAR TSMAGAZINE.COM 37

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