Art Aware Reflections as told to Steve Wills, PMA Educator

Here’s a “3-D photo” example: origami resting on a book by African American artist, Romare Bearden

“The goal of Art Aware is to celebrate art, individual creativity, and the accessibility of art—for elementary school kids—so that they can put their mark on the page. I’m very interested in peace in the world, in people getting along; and I think that, as Americans we have a unique perspective on that. Although we are two or three generations removed from our native countries, we are always looking to get back to our roots, so I love to examine the human condition and get that idea across to inner city kids. And the kids—whether they are from Cherry Hill or from the inner cities of Camden or Philadelphia—they all love the artwork. When you draw a square with four lines and then draw another square on top of it—it is still just flat.
Then you draw the diagonal lines which connect one square to another and suddenly it’s magic! It’s not just flat anymore. From there we talk about how a painting is made on a flat canvas. How do artists do this?”

One of Barbara’s favorite assignments for children involves a painting by Vincent van Gogh of his bedroom. She uses the idea of the diagonal lines from the drawing of a cube to show how he uses slanted lines to create perspective. “There’s a picture frame. You have slanted lines on the picture frame.” Her students draw variations on van Gogh’s bedroom. In fact, “what they love is seeing variations famous artists have done on the masters of the past, and the connections artists have made with history. That’s important for kids to see—that we’re always learning from the past.
Roy Lichtenstein did a variation of van Gogh’s bedroom, and the kids see it right away. Also African American artist Horace Pippin did several variations on Edward Hicks’s The Peaceable Kingdom.”

“This year has been a year of exhibiting the kids’ artwork, especially when the Governor’s Symposium on Community Transformation came up and a third grader’s “Motivating Music” from the Art Aware ’08 poster was used for the logo, and with all those paintings at Cooper Hospital. It’s important that people see. The kids work so hard.”

The spirit, holy and otherwise, that is the human, universal experience
I want to be a part of that and to leave behind a message that
I have been a part of it
It will take the rest of my life to figure out how.
–from a poem by Barbara Pfeiffer

Samples of 4th and 5th grade students’ variations on Van Gogh’s Bedroom

One Response to “Art Aware Reflections as told to Steve Wills, PMA Educator”

  1. Art Aware – 2008 and 09 – Philadelphia Museum of Art Interview | Artaware's Blog Says:

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