Friday, March 8, 2013

NATA 2013 Youth Art Month Exhibit at the State Capitol

In my recent wanderings at the Nebraska State Capitol, I happened upon an exhibit of art organized by the Nebraska Art Teachers Association on the first floor of the capitol rotunda.
NATA 2013 Youth Art Month Exhibit

The pieces on display not only showed artistic talent, but told the stories of how they were created. I ran across many great lesson plan ideas. (NOTE: I forgot to write down the names of the pictures I took, and so I only have two teachers quoted. If you happen to know the teacher whose lesson plan is listed, could you let me know?)
"Dog portraits made with newspapers seemed like a great idea. I had both the first grade and fifth grade do this lesson. The fifth grade created them first. They worked from a photograph of a dog they found on the internet. There was lots of trial and error as the children tried to created the shapes they saw in their dog's photograph. After all the shapes were glued down pastels were used to give their dog more dimension. I simplified the lesson for the first grade and their projects turned out as nice as the fifth graders." ~from the paper accompanying the piece

The flier for the event touted all the positive outcomes of Art Education: "promotes critical thinking, encourages collaborative efforts, develops the creative brain, increases innovative about good teaching and learning through the 21st Century Skills and much more than just making pretty pictures."
"Students first learned about the art element value, the art of typography and micography (also called microcalligraphy). They then were asked to bring in a quote, phrase, verse or lyric that represented them. Students then applied the quote to an abstract high contrast image of themselves to create beautiful and meaningful works of art." ~from the paper accompanying the piece

As a teaching artist with experience in classrooms both in Nebraska and California, I fully appreciate the fact that schools in Nebraska still have funded arts programs with art teachers and art classes in elementary and middle schools. I have observed the difference that arts can make in a young person's outlook and interest in school, not to mention all the learning opportunities that are inherent in art. It's unfortunate that anyone should have to prove that the arts make a difference in education, but that's exactly what most art teachers and art organizations have to do. When budgets get reduced and cuts are needed, the arts and other "non-essential" programs (like physical education) get the axe first.
"The high school art classes started a drawing unit by drawing and shading in values of a clothespin. The next step was studying artists, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, who took everyday objects and greatly enlarged them in a different way and placed them in a spacious environment. I also decided to throw in artist, Dale Chihuly, world famous blown glass artist. using the influence of Claes, Coosje, and Dale, the students were asked to design the clothespin to include designs on it: patterns, "Zentangles," etc. and put it in an environment of their choice. Students were also shown many of Dale Chihuly's glass installations, especially one of his newest installations below the Seattle Space Needle. They were to include his vibrant colors and be influenced by his unique shapes of glass. They could choose the medium in which to produce their 2-D artwork." ~Lesson Plan from Phil Herrmann of Doniphan, Nebraska

I'd just like to extend my thanks again to the Nebraska Unicameral and their support of the arts!
"For this project, the first graders discovered a local artist named Jean Mason. We looked at a series of her paintings that show musicians and instruments. She uses bright colors and shows lots of movement in her paintings. They were able to figure out how to make something look like it is moving by using lines. The students had to draw their favorite instrument and then paint it separate from the background. To complete the artwork students listened to jazz music as they drew the details of their instrument, lines and shapes to show movement with oil pastel." ~Lesson Plan from Becky Morine of Omaha

Recommended reading:
"The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need-And What We Can Do About It" by Tony Wagner.

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