Creativity is alive and well at Corlears. Walk through the halls and classroom of this school and you’ll see art in a variety of forms. From photographs to drawings to sculptures, Corlears students are exploring a multitude of materials and modes of art making throughout their time at the school. Through their processes they not only gain a deeper understanding of their curricular topics, but of themselves. Working with Art Specialist Becky, children further explore their own abilities, learning styles and are able to apply the vast knowledge they gain in the classroom to their creative endeavors in the art studio.
Art at Corlears is not a separate subject, but rather an extension of the learning that happens throughout the day in each classroom. Projects that students take on in the art studio give them an opportunity to take the knowledge they gain through units of study and apply it in a tactile way. For the 8/9s Woodlands study, the vast amount of information they had absorbed both in this building and on trips translated into a number of art projects including paintings displaying colors found in nature. For culmination, students poured over the construction of trees, animals and an elaborately detailed model of a forest; ultimately transforming their entire classroom and giving life to their study. For many of Corlears’ youngest students, art making is a somewhat foreign experience, and one that presents various opportunities to explore their own abilities and build upon their emerging independence. In the 2s class, Becky has introduced a variety of tools and gives each child the chance to choose what tools they want to use in their process. With gentle direction, these 2s begin learning about these new materials while exploring their own abilities. This investigation of the self is something that takes place each time these young students meet with their class, and continues throughout their years at Corlears both in their classrooms and in the art studio.
Art making is much more than the process of creating, it is rich with opportunities for self reflection and growth. Using new materials and executing a vision allows children to experiment and take risks in a supportive environment. As Becky observes, sometimes their vision does not come to fruition, but it is in the process of art making, not the result, where they stretch their abilities and build their confidence. Beyond creation, viewing art and reflecting empowers Corlears students just as much. When visiting museums around the city children explore art, take what they have learned and create a response piece. Becky uses the word “response” deliberately because rather than trying to copy or emulate the style of a particular artist, the children are encouraged to reflect on how the art impacted them. Students explore how the art made them feel, what it made them think and use that inspiration to create a piece that represents these reflections. By doing this, students make meaningful connections with pieces that they view and begin to value art as a form of self expression. This deep, meaningful thinking goes into each art project executed at Corlears and is evident in pieces created for The Auction.
Each year, students from each age level collaborate with their classmates to make art for The Auction. Each product is not only unique, but incredibly meaningful for the students. This year, the 10s art piece was inspired by an Anselmen Kiefer painting which depicts a vast field covered in poppies. During their process the 10s collaborated with Head of School David Egolf and their fellow students to make a piece that represents the their school community. Of the piece David says, “seeing the field as a metaphor for our community and the path as a representation of the passing of time, the 10s decided to collect a thumbprint from every child in the school and add their name to make the thumbprint ‘flowers’ that fill the field. They worked with watercolor paint, glue, felt tip pen and ink to create this multimedia piece that celebrates our school!” The 10s art piece is a proud display of the Corlears community spirit and a tangible part of the legacy they leave behind. This kind of meaningful art work is a direct reflection of their journey as students and as creative minds. At each age level, students have produced a piece that embodies this spirit, and one that they and their community can be proud of.*
The integration of art into the Corlears curriculum supports learning in a number of important ways. From reinforcing classroom content to building confidence, students become empowered as both learners, collaborators, thinkers and creators. The art our students create provide an outlet for self expression, reflection and provides the opportunity for the tangible application of their developing knowledge and skills. It is for these reasons (and many more) that our thriving arts program is such an essential part of our students' educational experience.
*Pieces will be on display in the school lobby on Tuesday, March 1st.