The hallways at Barstow often look like an art gallery with masterpieces from preschool through grade 12 on display. But the paintings, pottery and other pieces are not only works of art; they are lessons in history, culture and even technology that enrich every student’s education.
September 10-16 is National Arts in Education Week. Research from the Arts Education Partnership clearly shows that arts experiences provide students with 21st century skills like problem solving, creative thinking, cooperative working, conflict resolution, perseverance and integrity. Barstow fine arts instructors say it is crucial to the school's well-rounded curriculum.
Dana Weber, early childhood art teacher:
"Sydney Clemens said, 'Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.' Art allows a child to experience creative expression like no other subject. One of the blessings of being an art educator is to give the chance to every child to express themselves and also appreciate art created by others.
This semester, preschool students worked on fine motor skills with scissors, tempera paint and pastels to create paper tigers inspired by painter Henri Rousseau. Prekindergarten students learned about the art of Leonardo DaVinci, then created watercolor self-portraits. Kindergarten students studied the colorful technique Wassily Kandinsky used to evoke emotion, then created their own paintings and combined with language and photography to show and tell viewers “All About Me.”
Bridget Kukuk, lower school art teacher:
“Children develop vocabulary, motor and hand-eye skills by being active participants in art. Art allows students to stretch their imaginations, expand their world perspective and gain broader knowledge that builds up confidence while encouraging pupils to describe, analyze, and interpret visual images. Art education promotes divergent thinking by requiring students to defend their ideas, state opinions and make informed judgments, which opens up the possibility that there can be more than one solution. Art is a human experience that encourages expression and a higher aspiration of the human spirit.”
This semester, students in grades 1-5 made Native American-inspired art. Each project begins with a history lesson about various tribes, history and techniques. Grade 2 students also used an app on their iPad to create fruit and vegetable faces inspired by the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo. This lesson will be followed by drawing still life cornucopias and will connect to their study of nutrition and the food pyramid.
Lilli Lackey, middle and upper school art teacher:
“The arts teach problem solving, critical thinking, risk taking, team work, self expression, and so much more. Many of the students at Barstow aren’t planning to be a ‘painter’ or a ‘potter’ for their future career, but it is important to understand that every career is creative in its own way. The lessons learned in the arts can help them move forward in whatever fields they may choose. Art is everywhere.”
Mallory Hilvitz, Fine Arts Chair, middle school art and photography:
“Art is a metaphor for life. We give you a lump of clay or blank piece or paper. You have parameters you need to work within, but you need to create a landscape, vessel or portrait out of what you have available to you, possibly doing something you have never done before. How do you envision your work and life? It is up to you as to how the finished product turns out.”
Among the many projects created in middle and upper school this semester, grade 6 students 2-D art students engineered cityscapes with foam board then completed them with raised glue detailing and oil pastels. In ceramics classes, students created figurines and began working on the pottery wheel. Painting students created acrylic landscapes and learned the palette knife technique, while drawing students sketched observational still lifes.