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Visual Art at the ARTitorium on Broadway

Idaho Falls Arts Council

This grant supported visual arts field trips for ARTitorium on Broadway. After a couple of slower years due to COVID restrictions, we are happy to report that admissions were back to normal during this school year and we hosted 5,447 students on 117 scheduled field trips. The goal of the project was to provide low cost access to tools and instruction in the arts to as many young people in eastern Idaho as possible. The project took place entirely at ARTitorium on Broadway in downtown Idaho Falls. We selected this project because art education for elementary age kids is a primary focus of our mission and a program that requires the most external support in order to keep costs as low as possible for students, parents, and schools.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking?

Our field trips are designed to provide instruction in a particular artistic style, technique, or subject matter. Education Specialist Julie Hill presents an illustrated 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(s). We provide guidance and examples for the projects, but do not limit or discourage the students in their approach to the work. Open discussion is encouraged, and Julie prompts students to think about the visual components of an artwork, how artists approach the creation of an artwork, and how different materials and art concepts are used to create different effects. By participating in an ARTitorium field trip, students engage in exploration and imaginative play with materials (VA:Cr1.1.ka), use observation and investigation in preparation for making a work of art (VA:Cr1.2.1a), and brainstorm multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem (VA:Cr1.1.4a).

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Education Specialist Julie Hill always conducts a quick verbal survey with students after completing a field trip. She then collects the student comments. We find this informal, open-ended approach is the best way to get honest student feedback about the experience. These quotes are all in response to the question “What did you learn today?”

“Patterns can be circles inside of circles. Circles can look like bumps.” 1st Grade Student (Animals)
“It doesn’t matter if sketches are perfect. Just try.” 1st Grade Student (Animals)
“I learned you can’t hurry art.” Kindergarten Student (Not a Box)
“Art is something you have to work at.” Kindergarten Student (Not a box)
“Did you know drawing can be pretending?” Kindergarten Student (Not a Box)
“My line looked like a dog. I didn’t think that would happen.” 1st Grade Student (Animals)
“I liked shading rocks. I am going to do more of that at home.” 3rd Grade Student (Ocean Tide Pools)

Impact

From ARTitorium Education Specialist Julie Hill: “One of the things that always amazes me is how many kids come into our building who have had few experiences with art in their lives. This year I had one teacher thank us profusely for having this place open for her kids to come, since many of them come from lower income families who wouldn’t be able to come on their own. Giving kids a chance to learn about and make art is the best part of what we do.

It is fun to watch the kids get so involved in what they are doing in our projects. I had one kindergarten boy who was so busy working on his drawings that he didn’t even hear me saying it was time to clean up and when his teacher came up to him to tell him he had to put things away, he was so shocked. The way kids focus on what they are doing when we find a great project is worth all the hard work. One girl asked as she left, ‘How do you stand having all this fun?'”

Reflection

From ARTitorium Education Specialist Julie Hill: “The hardest part of the fieldtrip lessons that we do is coming up with plans that involve a combination of teaching concepts and letting the students make art with lots of freedom of expression. To do it in the amount of time we have the students with us is a challenge. Our goal is to also have our lessons align with state standards for visual arts learning. Plus, we want it to be fun! We work hard to integrate all these factors into what we do. We start several months before the lessons will be used, working and reworking to make them the best we can. This year we feel like our lessons were effective in meeting so many of the goals we were working toward.

I would recommend to someone doing a similar project to keep the end goals in mind. They should focus on the students and what art concepts would be interesting to expose them to. They should start early and work hard. They should also have a great time with the kids!”

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