Archive for July, 2010

Romare Bearden in the Elementary School

July 29, 2010


When Art Aware took nine busloads of students from eight Camden schools and one Philadelphia school to the Romare Bearden retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City, it paid off in terms of the artwork the fourth and fifth graders produced.

We made a large collage from cutouts of Bearden’s work and then showed many of his reproductions at each school. You can see the Lesson Plans on our website:

These images are by students at Gesu school, whose art teacher, Linda Hartzell, prepares them well for any visiting consultant such as myself. They cut, pasted, drew, watercolored and crayoned lively figures adapting Bearden’s ideas to their own styles.

African American artist, Romare Bearden was not only a collage artist, but also a painter and musician. By looking at his artwork and listening to jazz pieces inspired by it, the students caught his spirit.

Even in these small thumb prints, we hope you can catch the spirit too.

Self-Portraits by Children and a Hundred Year Prediction

July 9, 2010

Angela Allen is an elementary school art teacher in Camden who displayed in her Spring art show self-portraits done by kindergarteners, first and second graders. I chose one from each grade to illustrate the different drawing styles. See how well the faces are proportioned.

The eyelashes predominate in the kindergartener’s face. The lips, nose and mouth are so carefully drawn. The hair is neatly parted. Look at the nicely patterned blouse she wears.

The first grader’s portrait is dramatic in the shading of the face and the background. A nice job using watercolor paint. The eyes are piercing. The hair is braided and has colorful beads. I love the two hair-fountains framing the face. The dress has a nice pattern with a decorative collar.

Can you believe that the last portrait was done by a second grader? The shading, the dark accents highlighting the eyes, nose, eyebrows, cheeks and chin, the natural expression of the mouth showing a nice row of teeth, all contribute to an intense portrait.

Bravo Ms. Allen in getting your students to bring forth their individual self portraits.

The last piece of artwork was initiated by Mr. Auge, another Camden teacher, asking his fourth graders to imagine what they will look like at 100 years old. Did the young artist draw a solitary tooth in her mouth or is that an M & M candy? She is very alert, nicely dressed, a person I’d like to meet.


The Geraldine Dodge Foundation Grant

July 2, 2010

This is the top quadrant of a poster I made in a busy Art Aware year in which we got a Geraldine Dodge Foundation grant. You can see the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the front of Cream Elementary School, whose children benefitted from the grant and a mural of the artwork a class did after their visit to the PMA.

In the second quadrant you see some pots by artist Toshiko Takaezu, “The Moorish Chief” painting, and a child’s drawing of it, a photo of artist John Overmyer with his brush, a wall of reproductions of famous paintings hung in the school and artwork by the kids.

In the third quadrant you see some children interacting with educators at the PMA and more kids’ artwork. Notice one child’s colorful drawing of the mobile “Ghost” by Alexander Calder.

More of the same in the fourth quadrant.

I really enjoy writing these blogs because they force me to go back and look at what Art Aware and its partner schools and institutions have done. When you’re in the middle of fulfilling the terms of a grant, there’s little time for reflection. That has to come with the distance of time.

The Dodge Foundation wanted evaluations filled out by children on how they liked the project. How did we do that for kindergarteners – with blank circle faces on which they drew mouths: smiley, neutral or sad. As I remember it, all the kids drew happy faces 🙂