Art See – PTA Sponsored Art History and Hands-On
My children both attended Sabal Point Elementary school on Wekiva Springs Road in Longwood, FL. The school is right behind our house. Over the years we could hear the baseball being hit into the outfield, the basketball being slam dunked into the hoop, 5th grade field day, Booster-thon Fun Run and PE class. From the year Emilie started kindergarten, the PTA asked for classroom volunteers. Mathletes, Super Science… Art See! I found my niche. Every month for seven years, I came into either Emilie or Connor’s classroom and presented a famous artist and a hands-on lesson. We learned about Van Gogh, Matisse, O’Keeffe, Picasso, Degas, and more. Over the years I helped updated the curriculum and we added artists like Mary Cassatt, Pollock, Warhol, Frederick Law Olmstead, and Miriam Shapiro.
Being the parent volunteer for Art See was wonderful because the kids saw you coming and immediately had smiles on their faces. Art is fun like that. Our hands-on lessons included sculpture, painting, clay, embossing tin foil, splattering paint, paper cuts, origami, african mask making, and more. Many kids had big stories to tell about their brother, father, or aunt who was an artist, many more had stories to tell about how they were the very best artist in their family and that they wanted to be an artist when they grew up.
Gone but not Forgotten
My kids have moved on to high school now, it’s been four years since I walked the dogs around the corner to pick Connor up from elementary school. Both in high school, they’re up and out so early it’s dark out. We worry about bears eating them at the bus stop.
In middle school they do NOT want you to volunteer for anything. Do NOT set foot in my school under any circumstances, that was a given. Even under threat of the dance being CANCELLED due to lack of chaperones, do NOT volunteer. Ever. No more field trip chaperone or career day presentations (unless you present to a class that they are NOT in at a school they do NOT attend).
I have presented art as a career choice locally to both Lyman High School and Lake Brantley High School students in the portfolio program, luckily (or unluckily) neither of my kids are enrolled in high school art programs. I thoroughly enjoy talking to high school students about the many facets of an art career, about earning a BFA and about getting your foot in the door, any door.
But, there’s nothing that puts a smile on your face like a 10-year old looking up at you and saying “OH! OH! … ART SEE!”
Back to School
I met the parent coordinator for the program in the lobby as I logged into the computer and printed my name tag, We found Mrs. Brown (who Connor worked with every day on the morning TV show when he was in 5th grade) who had reminded me the day before not to forget my VGA adapter for my MAC so it could talk to the projector (she knows me by now). We’ve got this presentation down to a science (oh! did I say science? I meant art) now, my kids would have been proud. In the years since I my kids moved on, I’ve come back to school every October to present to an ever growing population of fifth graders. Last year we had seven classrooms, a record high, that’s when we decided to get them all into one place for one presentation, versus spending two weeks visiting seven classrooms like I had in the years past.
Today I presented to 167 fifth graders, eight classrooms worth. They sat still, paid attention, and asked EXCELLENT questions at the end of my presentation. Examples: “What is your next art related goal?” and “What was your favorite piece you ever created?” “Do you teach children’s classes?” “How does licensing your image onto merchandise work?” and the forever favorite… “Did YOU actually make THAT iPHONE CASE?????”
The hands-on component was collage, since I was the featured artist. I had told the PTA last year that tissue paper was a consistent hit with the kids and that the more of that we could afford to put into circulation, the better. This year the kids were making dimensional collages with crumpled tissue! I had never seen as much creativity as I did with the tissue this year.
Everyone wants you to come over to their desk and see what they are doing, to tell you all about it. AND to ask you for an autograph (no kidding). There’s just not enough time to get to every one of the kids in eight class rooms spread out over campus. I did my best. The kids were happy just to show me what they had accomplished, by the time I got to the last two classrooms.
Paying it Forward
My high school art teacher changed my career path when she invited former students to speak to our class about art careers and art college. I always appreciated her efforts and it was always in the back of my mind that I would like to be able to carry on her tradition of inspiring young artists one day. One year when I was home from college, I actually was the substitute teacher for my own elementary school art teacher Mrs. Zombek! I told the kids today that they were way to crazy for me to deal with on a regular basis, I told them I didn’t have the skills to wrangle them back in when they went off on their tangents! They laughed.
What I wanted to teach them was that art can be a career, or it can be just for fun. I wanted to inspire them to choose. Until next October, keep being an artist!
For more information on my workshops visit Facebook page for a complete listing of classes. No Facebook account required.
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