For the past seven Mondays, with only 5 more to go, I have traveled from Maine to Mattapan's Ellison Parks Elementary School to work with K0-K1 students as a Teaching Artist for VSA MA. Leaving the house at 5:00 am, heading South, as the colors lighten into a still cool New England morning, I review what I will be teaching that day. Hot colors and cool colors for sure; shapes and how to use them to create pictures, deﬁnitely; and most recently symmetry and composition. No matter what art foundation we are working on, I always need to be sure that I am tying the project back to the academic learnings taking place in the classrooms. Things that grow, shadows and reﬂections, creepy crawlies, bugs and butterﬂies are just a few of the projects we have worked on so far.
Once I walk in the classroom the energy is contagious. I love hearing young voices excited that Ms. Kristine is here today. I love the hugs and the sharing, the chaos of artists asking me to, "Look Ms. Kristine, am I doing a good job?" "Do you like it?" I love seeing the pride of each artist, of hearing them use new words, of having them ask, "Can I take this home?" and "I want to show this to my mommy." To be that engaged and proud of something is such an empowering thing for any student. To be excited to learn is the greatest gift I can give as a teacher.
Through these weeks of art making, the artists have made some incredible works of art, both 2D and 3D. Sculptural bugs, Dot paintings, Shadow puppets and Butterfly Headpieces. In the process of all this art making they have also learned so much more. They continue to learn about being good listeners and how to follow a set of multi-leveled instructions. They have been asked to make creative decisions, to work independently, to take risks and to try new and sometimes scary things. Throughout this journey they have all been amazing. Through each project we have deepened learnings that compliment their academic standards but always in ways that allow a little wiggle room for creative thinking.
At the end of every class we share. This is a chance to celebrate and acknowledge each artists' journey of learning. A round of clapping for the completed work of art and artist is very important, reinforcing that not only is Ms. Kristine an artist but everyone who is willing to create during this time is also an artist.
So as I pack up my supplies and head back to Maine I am exhausted, but in a wonderful way. I am full of joy, inspired and excited by all the creative little artists I have had the blessings of working with that morning. You might say there are lots of reds, yellows and oranges swirling around inside my heart as I head home and if you don’t know what that means, ask one of my students, they can explain it.
To see all the exciting work Kristine has been doing at Ellison Parks, visit the school art website.
Kristine is owner of The Creative Child and Adult Arts Program.Tweet