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March 21, 2016 How to Organize an Amazing Art Show at Your School By Shari Carter
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    "Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence," sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it's closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity. Edutopia, 2016

    Children at our school are fortunate to take part in engaging art activities and lessons on a regular basis. In fact, most of our classrooms are privileged to have art parents who come in once or twice a month to teach art (and just in case you’re wondering if they are good, they are amazing!). These fabulous art parents are passionate about teaching the arts, and when they come in to teach, they meet Common Core State Standards, are well prepared, and are joyful when they share their love of the arts with our students. 

    Kim Roth and Whitney Fredin are two art parents at our school who have taken their passion for the fine arts to a higher level. They are the art show coordinators at our school, and just two weeks ago, they pulled off yet another inspiring event! We had a great turnout and after spending the night looking at all the student art and seeing the countless families who attended, I just couldn’t help thinking that every school should have an art show like ours!

    I asked Kim and Whitney if they could share some of the tips on how to have a successful art show and they couldn’t be more excited to share their thoughts with you!

     

    Kim and Whitney’s Recommendations

    • Collaborative Projects

    The success of any art show is making it something that everyone has a part in. To achieve this goal we have had collaborative projects where the entire school creates a piece of art for display. This year our project was Chihuly-inspired coffee filter art. As people enter the art show, the very first thing they see is this beautiful hallway.

    To create this art piece, each student in our school designed a coffee filter using markers — the key is to make sure to completely color the filter. When the students' completed their designs, they used Styrofoam cups to form their free-form sculptures. When the kids had their sculptures in the form they wanted, our art parents sprayed them with spray starch. Later, we attached the coffee filter sculptures (with glue dots) to butcher paper and hung from the ceiling.

    The trick to having a successful collaborative art display is finding a simple project where the instructions and all materials are delivered to each classroom. It should not be a large time-consuming project, as that tends to be stressful for the less artistic teachers. This project is always a favorite amongst the kids and can really make a strong statement and impact coming into a hallway.

    • Give Teachers Plenty of Notice and Advertise

    One key element to art show success is to give your teachers plenty of advanced warning. It is important to be very clear when working with teachers on what you would like them to do, including all the deadlines and necessary steps that they will need to take. We try to let the teachers know at the beginning of year that there will be an art show and to save favorite pieces of the kids' art. If art is saved throughout the year, then there is plenty to choose from when it is time to display. Some of our teachers prefer to save art projects their whole class has made, while others like to have their students choose their favorite art pieces. When you have student-chosen art displays it is a reflection of the art they have created throughout the year. You would be surprised at all the great things that these young artists produce.

    Getting the word out to our families is critical to the success of your art show. Let them know about the art show early and make sure to send home flyers and put them up all around your school. When designing art show invitations I've tried to do something that is easily printed on colored Bond paper (using the school copy machine), and remembering that less is more.

    • Displaying Artwork

    In terms of artwork display for the shows, we have found that two long strips of butcher paper (same color) hung in the hallways makes a vibrant backdrop to display the classrooms' artwork. We often add many extra display areas of varied colors around the school and ask teachers to fill those spaces up, so our entire school is transformed by art. There is always a portrait gallery as well. The portraits are created sometime during the year (and saved) and then they are labeled and art volunteers add them to the big display. We have hung posters that say things like "These Are the Faces of Art at Andrus Elementary School" next to the displays. There are so many styles and media used to create portraits and that is why this is one of our favorite displays!

    • Labeling The Artwork

    We try to properly label the title of the project, the medium used, class, and student name. For example, Little Birdies watercolor paintings by Emma in Mrs. Carter’s class. This is what gives the displays a museum effect, and we have sometimes added biographies on the original artist when we are creating art after a specific style or artist.  

    • Keep It Simple

    I think simple always wins! It helps to simplify things so that teachers don't feel overwhelmed by an art show and view it as just one more thing to do in addition to all of the other standards they need to teach. It absolutely helps to have the staff and principal on board with the art show. The best part of the art show is watching the kids explain their pieces to their parents and tell them about the artist or something they learned. The families really light up to see the art-filled hallways in our school, and it makes for a happy learning environment for all our kids at Andrus.

     

    Why Should We Teach Fine Arts?

    It's difficult to put into words, the pride and joy you see in a child when they have created their own personal masterpiece! Some of the best pieces of art have been from my students who are not typically successful in the other academic areas. Art allows children the opportunity to become more confident and that just fills my heart with joy. I cannot begin to tell you what a highlight the art show is for me. As I walk the hallways, I, too, am filled with so much pride. Pride in my students — pride in all of our students. I also have much satisfaction knowing that I am a small part of something so GREAT! I absolutely encourage you to give this a try at your own school. I can guarantee, you and your students (and their families) will LOVE what they see!

    This quote from Tom Horne, the former state superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, really speaks to me. "When you think about the purposes of education, there are three," Horne says. "We're preparing kids for jobs. We're preparing them to be citizens. And we're teaching them to be human beings who can enjoy the deeper forms of beauty. The third is as important as the other two." (Edutopia, 2016)

    If your school has an art show, I would love to hear all about it! 

    Don't forget to subscribe to my blog on Scholastic Top Teaching if you would like to get my latest posts delivered right to your inbox. 

    Thanks for reading, have fun with your kiddos, and I’ll see you here next time!

    Happy Teaching!

    Shari 

    "Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence," sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it's closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity. Edutopia, 2016

    Children at our school are fortunate to take part in engaging art activities and lessons on a regular basis. In fact, most of our classrooms are privileged to have art parents who come in once or twice a month to teach art (and just in case you’re wondering if they are good, they are amazing!). These fabulous art parents are passionate about teaching the arts, and when they come in to teach, they meet Common Core State Standards, are well prepared, and are joyful when they share their love of the arts with our students. 

    Kim Roth and Whitney Fredin are two art parents at our school who have taken their passion for the fine arts to a higher level. They are the art show coordinators at our school, and just two weeks ago, they pulled off yet another inspiring event! We had a great turnout and after spending the night looking at all the student art and seeing the countless families who attended, I just couldn’t help thinking that every school should have an art show like ours!

    I asked Kim and Whitney if they could share some of the tips on how to have a successful art show and they couldn’t be more excited to share their thoughts with you!

     

    Kim and Whitney’s Recommendations

    • Collaborative Projects

    The success of any art show is making it something that everyone has a part in. To achieve this goal we have had collaborative projects where the entire school creates a piece of art for display. This year our project was Chihuly-inspired coffee filter art. As people enter the art show, the very first thing they see is this beautiful hallway.

    To create this art piece, each student in our school designed a coffee filter using markers — the key is to make sure to completely color the filter. When the students' completed their designs, they used Styrofoam cups to form their free-form sculptures. When the kids had their sculptures in the form they wanted, our art parents sprayed them with spray starch. Later, we attached the coffee filter sculptures (with glue dots) to butcher paper and hung from the ceiling.

    The trick to having a successful collaborative art display is finding a simple project where the instructions and all materials are delivered to each classroom. It should not be a large time-consuming project, as that tends to be stressful for the less artistic teachers. This project is always a favorite amongst the kids and can really make a strong statement and impact coming into a hallway.

    • Give Teachers Plenty of Notice and Advertise

    One key element to art show success is to give your teachers plenty of advanced warning. It is important to be very clear when working with teachers on what you would like them to do, including all the deadlines and necessary steps that they will need to take. We try to let the teachers know at the beginning of year that there will be an art show and to save favorite pieces of the kids' art. If art is saved throughout the year, then there is plenty to choose from when it is time to display. Some of our teachers prefer to save art projects their whole class has made, while others like to have their students choose their favorite art pieces. When you have student-chosen art displays it is a reflection of the art they have created throughout the year. You would be surprised at all the great things that these young artists produce.

    Getting the word out to our families is critical to the success of your art show. Let them know about the art show early and make sure to send home flyers and put them up all around your school. When designing art show invitations I've tried to do something that is easily printed on colored Bond paper (using the school copy machine), and remembering that less is more.

    • Displaying Artwork

    In terms of artwork display for the shows, we have found that two long strips of butcher paper (same color) hung in the hallways makes a vibrant backdrop to display the classrooms' artwork. We often add many extra display areas of varied colors around the school and ask teachers to fill those spaces up, so our entire school is transformed by art. There is always a portrait gallery as well. The portraits are created sometime during the year (and saved) and then they are labeled and art volunteers add them to the big display. We have hung posters that say things like "These Are the Faces of Art at Andrus Elementary School" next to the displays. There are so many styles and media used to create portraits and that is why this is one of our favorite displays!

    • Labeling The Artwork

    We try to properly label the title of the project, the medium used, class, and student name. For example, Little Birdies watercolor paintings by Emma in Mrs. Carter’s class. This is what gives the displays a museum effect, and we have sometimes added biographies on the original artist when we are creating art after a specific style or artist.  

    • Keep It Simple

    I think simple always wins! It helps to simplify things so that teachers don't feel overwhelmed by an art show and view it as just one more thing to do in addition to all of the other standards they need to teach. It absolutely helps to have the staff and principal on board with the art show. The best part of the art show is watching the kids explain their pieces to their parents and tell them about the artist or something they learned. The families really light up to see the art-filled hallways in our school, and it makes for a happy learning environment for all our kids at Andrus.

     

    Why Should We Teach Fine Arts?

    It's difficult to put into words, the pride and joy you see in a child when they have created their own personal masterpiece! Some of the best pieces of art have been from my students who are not typically successful in the other academic areas. Art allows children the opportunity to become more confident and that just fills my heart with joy. I cannot begin to tell you what a highlight the art show is for me. As I walk the hallways, I, too, am filled with so much pride. Pride in my students — pride in all of our students. I also have much satisfaction knowing that I am a small part of something so GREAT! I absolutely encourage you to give this a try at your own school. I can guarantee, you and your students (and their families) will LOVE what they see!

    This quote from Tom Horne, the former state superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, really speaks to me. "When you think about the purposes of education, there are three," Horne says. "We're preparing kids for jobs. We're preparing them to be citizens. And we're teaching them to be human beings who can enjoy the deeper forms of beauty. The third is as important as the other two." (Edutopia, 2016)

    If your school has an art show, I would love to hear all about it! 

    Don't forget to subscribe to my blog on Scholastic Top Teaching if you would like to get my latest posts delivered right to your inbox. 

    Thanks for reading, have fun with your kiddos, and I’ll see you here next time!

    Happy Teaching!

    Shari 

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