Over four hundred students at Dana Gray School, grades third through fifth, had the opportunity to go to ‘The Studio’- their art own classroom, this past month as a result of Flockworks and Safe Passage Family Resource Centers effort to return art to the curriculum.
Due to budget cuts, the local school district was no longer able to fund an art teacher, but Flockworks, a local arts organization, secured a grant to hire Norma Trejo to facilitate art projects each day on campus. Ms. Trejo has been assisted by Anne Harvey from Safe Passage Family Resource Center and Joanna Wigginton, a retired teacher and Flockworks Board member.
The gracious and welcoming teachers at Dana Gray School accompanied their students to class and have been wonderfully supportive in ensuring the success of this new program. The first four weeks have flown by in a colorful study of warm, cool, and monochromatic color.
One of the biggest rewards we experience daily is the spontaneous expression from students who proclaim, “I love art!” Their focused engagement and enthusiasm is proof alone that returning arts to the classroom has benefits.
The first week students participated in creating a mural by printing on Tyvek, a durable synthetic fiber, using real sunflowers as their ’stamps’. A special thanks to HOPE garden at Dana Gray and Fortunate Farms for donating the sunflowers. Although it was a lot to fit into the first class, the murals were readied for display at the Hispanic Heritage Fiesta sponsored by the Latino Coalition.
We encourage everyone to view the sunflowers paintings that are on display in the hallways of Dana Gray. The array of colors that were created from a palette that originally consisted of only red and yellow paint is inspiring. The centers of the sun flowers are created with real seeds. You will also see the long strips of cool colors and leaves. Students did rubbings with leaves from different trees and plants to produce this abundant flora. As part of the assignment, they could also chose to add arachnids and arthropods to their foliage.
Later in the month was an opportunity to have an individual piece become part of the whole. Students received a piece from a puzzle quilt with an even number correlating to a warm color palette and an odd numbered piece for cool colors. These quilts adorn the hallways of Dana Gray and are worth seeing.
We continued with a study of color and paint and each student was given a palette with white and black paint. Then either red or blue was chosen as the monochromatic color to explore. White as a tint and black as a shade opportunity to create a wide variety of color that filed geometric shapes designed by the young artists. This type of exercise is foundational in helping artists understand the use of color and light in creating.
“Painting is my favorite thing to do. It makes me feel so relaxed,” said one fifth grade student. “I feel like I’m at home, but I’m in school,” said another.
All together it is a successful project thus far empowering the school and most importantly students with tangible skills to tap their creativity and contribute beauty and artistic expression in our community!