The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:
How do artists work?
Our educational outreach programs cover a broad spectrum of Arts Core Standards in both Visual Arts and Theater. Based on panel feedback from this FY18 request, our FY19 Annual Project request was entirely focused on visual arts field trips instead of trying to encompass ALL of our arts education offerings. Therefore, it felt appropriate to select an essential question from FY18 that applied to ARTitorium field trips. Our field trips are designed to provide instruction in a particular artist, artistic style/technique, or subject matter. Education Specialist Julie Hill presents a lesson, during which students complete small art projects at different points that relate to the content being taught and demonstrate their understanding of the concept. We provide guidance and examples for the projects, but do not limit or discourage the students in their approach to the work. Our goal is to give students the skills, inspiration, and confidence to make art on their own, further supported by the “open play” period of the field trip that follows the formal lesson. Students that participate in one of our field trips should be able to:
- Organize and develop artistic ideas and work (VA Anchor Standard 2)
- Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work (VA Anchor Standard 1)
- Perceive and analyze artistic work (VA Anchor Standard 7)
- Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work (VA Anchor Standard 8)
At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:
Comments from students in a Kindergarten class who participated in a color mixing field trip:
What was your favorite part/what did you learn?
- “My favorite is making the green. The green was pretty. Green was best. I learned making green.” –Piper
- “I already know colors mix together. But I still had fun.” –Mason
- “The fun part was colors going mixing. They made the new colors.” –Tregun
Comments from students in a 5th grade class who participated in a Picasso field trip:
What did you learn?
- “Picasso isn’t just some crazy person.” –Jonah
- “It’s not as easy as it looks to make this art.” –BJ
- “Designs and patterns are interesting to look at. They can make art better.” –Aubree
Comments from students in a 2nd grade class who participated in a cave painting field trip:
What did you learn?
- “That cave painters made animals. Mostly animals. That was so surprising.” –Jala
- “Drawing animals. I learned drawing animals.” –Brianna
- “Caves paintings have some science and some art. Well, science studies them now, and it was art then. They may not have been scientists then, but they made art and now people study the art.” –Trig
Comment from a student in the “Animals and Where They Live” art class (ages 5-7)
- “Painting is a way my happiness gets bigger.” –Sterling
Julie Hill, our Education Specialist, recalls a moment that encapsulates everything we aim to do at ARTitorium: “A learning moment that meant a lot to me as a teacher involved a small boy. He was in first grade and we were drawing animals. They had drawn some shapes and now were supposed to study different details, such as fur, and which areas of fur were dark or light. He threw his hands up in the air in despair and said “I am going to need a lot of help with this one.” I talked him through looking closely and adding just one thing. Then he looked again and added one more thing. In a matter of minutes with just a little encouragement he had made a picture he was proud of. Kids can do great things if we can encourage them and get them to try.”
We’ve learned from past experiences that it’s difficult to inspire kids about subjects that we are not personally excited about. We planned this year of field trips and art classes by picking topics that we wanted to work on and that we thought would be fun. We were rewarded very quickly in this, since students were much more engaged in the lessons. This seems obvious, but sometimes we focus so much on what we want students to know, we forget that the best way for them to learn is to do something they enjoy. With art in particular, we need to show kids how exciting creativity can be!
The best advice we can give to anyone working on a similar project is that you need to balance careful planning with the ability to roll with the changes! We introduce new field trip and art class topics every year, and sometimes it takes a few implementations to land on the exact right approach for each subject and each age group. Every group of kids responds in a slightly different way, and even the same group of kids might respond differently depending on a wide variety of factors (Are they hungry? Is it close to the end of the semester? Do they have a test later that day? What’s the weather doing? etc.). Planning field trips and art classes is a constant process, but it is always fun to solve the problems that arise.