Archive for February, 2010

AAUW, Philadelphia Orchestra and Sylvia

February 26, 2010

Many of my education colleagues wear more than one hat in their lives as homemaker, teacher, volunteer, etc. Sylvia was such a person – a long-time friend, teacher, past AAUW President and Co-chair with me of the Children’s Concerts in which The American Association of University Women provides subscription series tickets to Philadelphia Orchestra performances for Camden elementary school students.

One year the Orchestra sponsored an art contest for kids to draw their favorite thing. Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring” was to be played. The winning drawings and photos of the artists would be displayed during the concert. ALL of the drawings we submitted won. What a thrill for the students to see their artwork and photographs shown on large screens at the Kimmel Center, accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra playing “My Favorite Things.”

Sylvia died this week, suddenly of congestive heart failure. She leaves behind so many friends she touched as teacher and volunteer and also countless inner city children (and adults) who don’t know her by name but know and remember her through their Academy of Arts and Kimmel Center visits – often once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

We will miss Sylvia so much but her legacy lives on.

Camden’s Excellent Elementary School Art Teachers

February 17, 2010
My two Art Goes to School Classes (AGTS) today in Cherry Hill revealed the heights students can reach through interacting with reproductions of fine art. The second and third grade classes responded to a portfolio of pictures with enthusiasm and originality. At the end of the class they quickly drew fine, spontaneous, abstract designs without any hesitation.
Their art teacher, who observed the classes given by this visiting teacher, was proud of her proteges. Without her dedication, teaching skills, enthusiasm and encouragement the students would not have known what to say, what to do!

Camden, NJ, a struggling city, has reason to be proud of its elementary school art teachers who produce results similar to those in Cherry Hill, a well-to-do town. Please enjoy the samples of artwork initiated by Ms. Kring Schreifels at Camden Forward School (Urban Promise).

The students did variations on themes by William Johnson and Romare Bearden.

Bearden and Origami

February 7, 2010

Bearden and Origami

On Saturday, home-bound by our 29″(!) of snow, I made origami in preparation for an upcoming class with 7th graders. I needed a hard surface to work on and chose the nearest thing to where I was sitting, a children’s book by Romare Bearden, “Li’l Dan, the Drummer Boy.” On the back of the book is a wonderful picture of the artist’s sensitive face. I felt he was looking up at me, helping with the difficult origami instructions!

Several years ago Art Aware got a grant from Faith Ringgold, the African American creator of story quilts, to teach students about Romare Bearden, the African American collage artist. It was after Bearden had his huge retrospective at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and part of that show was to go the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

The grant allowed us to work with art teachers in eight Camden elementary schools and one Philadelphia school. Large murals of collages in Bearden’s style were created and displayed and then nine busloads of elementary school students went to the Whitney to see his original artwork.

I hope it was an experience those two hundred young artists will never forget. I know I never will.

And my origami session with Bearden on my lap made me feel even closer to him.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

February 2, 2010

Different Strokes for Different Folks
The portfolio of reproductions of famous paintings on this particular day included Van Gogh’s Bedroom, Roy Lichtenstein’s Van Gogh Bedroom, Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie, and Dubuffet’s Parade of Objects. It was a good mix of representational and abstract styles.
For the first 15 minutes we talked about color, line, shape, depth of field, etc.

Art Aware would give presentations to all the art classes scheduled for the week with the resident art teacher observing. Five hundred students a week from first through eighth grade would be an average number for most schools.

Thanks to having art every week for all of their elementary school years, the students knew how to put their marks on the page.

I gave them oil crayons and the choice of plain paper or graph paper to work with. Hexagon-sided paper in some classes was given out so that the finished art could fit together a class mural.

Julie, a sixth grader, chose vibrant colors and solid shapes to do a flat view of Van Gogh’s bed; her modern, yellow chair was influenced by the Lichtenstein reproduction.

Stephanie, a fifth grader was entirely creative in her design of the bedroom which was influenced by Van Gogh, Mondrian and Lichtenstein.

You can see great results when kids realize different strokes for different folks is entirely the way art works – and that they themselves are the artists!