The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:
What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking?
Our educational outreach programs covered a broad spectrum of Arts Core Standards in both Visual Arts and Theater. For this report, I have selected an essential question and anchor standards that applied primarily to ARTitorium field trips and art classes, since these represent the biggest investment in both staff time and grant expenditures. One of our main goals is to give young people the opportunity to be creative, to experiment, and to play with a wide variety of art-making ideas and tools. In all of our field trips and art classes, students follow instructions to complete an art project. While we provide guidance and examples for the work, there is no ‘correct’ way to make art and we do not want to limit or discourage anyone in their approach to a project. We aim to give them the skills that they need to be successful in making art on their own. We want all students to demonstrate the following abilities as a result of participating in one of our programs:
• Visual Arts – Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
• Visual Arts – Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work
• Visual Arts – Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work
• Visual Arts – Anchor Standard 8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work
At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:
Comments from students:
• “This is one of the best field trips ever. I had fun learning about lines.” – Eli
• “Thank you for teaching us art and letting us play.” -Jairden
• “My favorite thing was making the doll with string and the spoon and other things. My other favorite thing was the computer that we got to color pages.” –Stormy
• “I love when you taught us new lines! I love when we played with the green screen. I loved when we got to play on the computer.” –Nohlan
Comments from teachers:
• “The staff was very inviting and well versed in student interaction. The lesson fit directly into what had been taught in our art class at the beginning of the year and was a fabulous review for the students.” –Ridgecrest Elementary 2nd Grade
• “The private lesson for the 80 students on symbolism and then the opportunity for the students to explore different venues and mediums of art. The interactive-ness was wonderful even for our big kids.” –Pocatello Community Charter School, 5th and 6th Grades
• “Everything was hands on, kid friendly and engaging!!” –Greenacres Elementary, 1st and 2nd Grades
• “It is educational and fun. Most of our students don’t get to do fun things like this with family.” –Hawthorne Elementary 1st Grade
From Julie Hill, ARTitorium Education Specialist:
One of my favorite moments happened with a boy of about 10 who was in a field trip. He claimed he “did not do art.” I told him it would be a long time to sit if he wasn’t going to try something. We were talking about weather in art, and how different sail boats look in a storm and then in calm weather. Artists use different kinds of lines to show the intense movement and drama in a storm. He started working and, after saying a few times that he was no good at art and he couldn’t do it, he made a lovely boat with waves crashing over it and big rocks. As he was leaving he said it was the best art he had ever done. I was happy he had the chance to experience that but sad that he didn’t have more chances to do “the best art ever.”
Our field trips have always focused on being interactive and entertaining. Their format, however, has evolved this year. In previous years we began with a lesson and followed that with a single hands-on art project. Now we follow a format that includes multiple small projects at different points during the lesson, then a longer, more finished project at the end. This has been working very well: the kids are more engaged in what is happening and we can tell immediately if they are understanding the concept we are teaching. It works particularly well with smaller groups and can work with very large groups so long as we have enough volunteer assistance.
It has been a learning experience to find the best audiences for our field trips and art classes. We have tried classes for teenage kids but struggled to get participation, likely because many kids that age have access to art in school and are very busy with other extracurricular activities. Focusing on younger kids seems to be a better fit for the experiences that we offer. There is not much art education in the elementary schools in our area, and many kids of elementary age want art experiences. In addition, our new classes designed specifically for home-schooled children have been extremely successful, with high ongoing participation.
We would suggest to someone trying a project similar to ours to design experiences that keep the kids engaged while giving them skills to be successful at making art, and to focus on those students who are looking for and need art experiences.