I thought the alphabet would be a comprehensive and creative way to share the beauty and joy that’s been brewing in the studio over the past few weeks. Enjoy the highlight show!
A is for Anthropomorphic creatures.
During our Will Wegman inspired sculpture unit, 3rd graders used plaster gauze to create half human/ half animal creations based on their hilarious photo-collages.
B is for Buddy Classes.
During DC-CAS Spirit Week, Maury art students in non-testing grades created thoughtful works of art based on the projects our testing students were working on. It was such a surprise for our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to know that the younger students had spent such quality time admiring their work and later creating portraits of their superheroes and anthropomorphic sculptures to treasure forever. This spirit week surprise helped promote empathy among students in different grades. It forged new relationships and taught students how to care for other’s work as if it were their own.
C is for Clay!
It’s arrived and already, students in grades preschool-2nd grade have been elbow deep in the beautiful, red, terracotta earthenware! Before the year is out, 3rd-5th will be have their turn as well. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE clay?
D is for Donorschoose.org.
You all are the most fantastic supporters an art teacher could have. You support studiomaury’s spirit and provide the valuable resources needed for your child to have a quality arts education. With your help, this year alone, students have worked with plaster, clay, exotic glazes, and printmaking tools I didn’t learn about until graduate school! You guys are the best!
E is for Exploration!
Has anyone seen the art studio lately? Maury artists, PS-2nd grade, have embraced their adventurous sides and used homemade binoculars to take a look deep into our artistic past to the very first examples of art ever made–cave art! Our prehistoric art unit has dropped us at the caves of Lascaux, France where students have taken the idea of experiential learning to a whole new level. Crawling through the mouth of our “student-made” cave, guided by the light of our lantern, we enter our cold, dark, studio each week and experience life just as the Neanderthal and Cro Magnon people did tens of thousands of years ago. We’ve made our own cave paint from earth and animal fat (OK, it’s really just Crisco but shhh, don’t tell the kids), created pictographs on textured surfaces with oil and chalk pastels, and taken a virtual tour through the tunnels of Lascaux to experience what the French boys and their dog, Robot, must have felt like when venturing into the spooky caves back in 1940 when they accidentally stumbled across one of the most important artistic discoveries of all time. We are using prehistoric tools to create textured cave walls from clay that we will soon carve our own petroglyphic messages into as a means to communicate what we value most about our modern society. We have also had some pretty heated debates about art conservation and whether or not it’s fair that Lascaux is now closed to the public after the wear and tear of thousands of visitors led to the deterioration of these International treasures. Take a break from your busy day and transport yourself to France along with us!
These young artists have found fun new ways to create textured cave walls–with their feet! I say if nobody is getting hurt and we’re having fun, why not, right?
G is for graffiti (the legal kind).
Mr. Rogers and I teach a collaborative class together on Fridays with both kindergarten classes. We find fun ways for students to incorporate the visual arts with song, instrument playing, dance, and sound. Sometimes we use line to express emotion. On this particular day, our lines became wild, graffiti-like designs and the best part of all–our creative collaboration happened outside on our outdoor chalkboard!
H is for the Hill Center Art Show.
What a treat for a select group of 4th and 5th graders to show their Warhol creations in a professional art space! The show was such a huge success and well received by the entire Capitol Hill community. We were even written up and reviewed by the Hill Rag! So proud of our budding artists.
I in for Intaglio.
With the addition of our new printing press, 3rd-5th grade have just embarked on an advanced intaglio print project where they will be carving into plexi class with razor sharp tools in order to create grooves that will trap ink until drawn out by wet paper and the pressure of the press. These etchings will highlight student’s handiwork when it comes to creating value using line via hatching and cross-hatching.
This is what a productive art studio looks like!
Our giant, front-loading kiln has been working hard for the home team. We have packed it full of faux cave walls, bisque fired it so that all the moisture is out of our bone dry pieces and prepared for the glaze firing. All in a days work!
Anyone up for a road-trip? On second thought, just come by the studio and visit Lascaux III with us.
Mark Newport was the true inspiration behind our ten week fiber unit. Check out his artist statement below and tell me this man doesn’t deserve a place in an art curriculum.
These characters are childhood memories of the ultimate man – the Dad every boy wants, the man every boy wants to grow up to be. My hand knit acrylic re-creations of these heroes’ costumes combine their heroic, protective, ultra masculine, yet vulnerable personas with the protective gestures of my mother – hand knit acrylic sweaters meant to keep me safe from New England winters. The costumes are life-size, my size, wearable objects that hang limply on hangers challenging the standard muscular form of the hero and offering the space for someone to imagine themselves wearing the costume, becoming the hero. They become the uniforms I can wear to protect my family from the threats we are told surround us.
The Sweatermen, Every-Any-No Man, and Bobbleman are heroes of my own invention. They push the image of the hero by highlighting knitting materials, textures, and traditions in the form of the costume. Some of the color and texture choices are based on the sweaters my mother made, her love of cables and her color choices. In these I work to forge the link between childhood experience and an adult understanding of protection, masculinity, and heroism.
N is for Newspaper.
Newspaper has been a real lifesaver in the studio this year. It covers and protects my tables, balls up to become 3D, and is a cheap resource for us to experiment with.
Teaching outside is such a treat for students and teachers alike at the end of the year. Although there are quite a few distractions, like bugs, and sirens, and well EVERYTHING, it’s good for the soul to get out and move!
This stuff allows students to create hearty sculptural forms with ease. It’s fun to make the connection that this plaster gauze we use in the art studio is also the same thing doctors use to create casts with in the hospital.
High quality craftsmanship is something I place a high value on when assessing student work. We talk a lot about the aesthetic decisions we make when creating a work of art and how messy work, when not intentional, can distract the viewer from seeing what the work is really all about. I often use student work as examples when introducing a new project to classes. I always choose work of fine quality and care to set the expectation high for future projects.
I like to treat art as an academic subject with the same worth and merit as say, math or reading. Students know that nothing irks me more than when I see brains turned off and hear, “but when do we get to make art?” I believe that in order to make strong artwork, one must have a strong knowledge of techniques, art history, and processes. Good writers and spellers are typically well read. Great artists have background knowledge of influential artists that came before, museum etiquette, elevated vocabulary, and practice critiquing others work and in turn, the confidence to have their work critiqued as well. There will always be art making happening in studiomaury, but it is my goal that my students know why and how they are making their art and the powerful ways their work can influence their peers and community.
S is for Superheroes.
If you haven’t taken a close look at the finished products from our 10 week long fiber arts unit, you are really missing out. The superheroes in the windowsill are the plush likenesses of our amazing 4th and 5th grade artists. They applied their skills of knitting, dyeing, sewing, designing, and accessorizing these figures to match their inner superhero personalities. These dolls bring out what is unique, intelligent, kind, and funny about each of our students and use creativity to explore symbolism and deign in order to artistically express what makes each child unique.
Young students are capable of so much and really want an opportunity to prove to adults that they are responsible and trustworthy. I have fond that the materials and content I am often most nervous to introduce are associated with the projects students are most engaged and successful with. Trusting students to hammer nails, carve linoleum, discuss ugly parts of our Nation’s history, and use hot glue are the times I have learned the most from the kids and enjoyed teaching the most. In an education system so bogged down by testing, I really value the opportunity to empower students through art and authentic materials everyday.
U is for Uck!
Did your Maury artist tell you about the time we made cave paint from fat and dirt? Uck!
Students in grades 3-5 will be learning how to create value using only lines during our printmaking unit. Hatching and cross-hatching are excellent ways to do just that.
W is for watercolor paint.
I am still in awe of the way our watercolor and oil pastel resist paintings of land-forms came out. A complete display will be hung in the downstairs hall of the East building soon…hold me to that!
X is for Xenolitic.
Our handmade rock fragments of cave walls are hot from the kiln and ready for students to carve petroglyphs into them any day now.
Ms. Scott’s class was so much fun to teach during spirit week. To look out across the studio and see a sea of yellow bodies was so colorful and energizing.
Sharp minds, talented students and endless imaginations lead to projects that result in awesomeness like this! I am so lucky to teach the students of Maury and am grateful of the opportunity on a daily basis.