“For instance, in Morocco, they have a tradition of tile-making called ‘zellige tiles’ and its passed down from generation to generation, so we made our own zellige tiles out of paint chips,” art instructor Dawn Gray said.
She explained the projects, which included 3-D construction, large-scale group work, drawing and painting, not only exposed all students to different art mediums, but also introduced the students to different traditions within the various countries.
“Each grade level does a different project with each unit, but they’re all studying the same country and learning about the same culture and the same art,” Gray said. “I always do a PowerPoint and ... we incorporate a social studies lesson with each unit.”
She said it’s also important to expose students to different art mediums.
“I think they have to experience a different medium each time because I know, as an artist, I had to try all the mediums to find the one that suited me the best, and as an artist, you usually cling to one or two [mediums],” Gray said. “I think it’s not a full education unless they experience as many mediums as they can.”
Fifth-grader Haley Butler explained to The Daily Tribune News some of the projects on display at the art show. For example, her creation of a Thai spirit house.
“Spirits can live in them and sometimes people put fruits and little glass figures for [the spirits], and we made these out of shoe boxes and we used acrylic paint,” Butler said.
She said her favorite aspect of the art program at EES is painting, but she enjoys drawing as well.
“Ms. Gray makes it fun by letting us do different things and we’re allowed to use stuff we wouldn’t have at our homes, like special paint, and I just think she’s real inspiring,” Butler said.
Butler also said she enjoyed learning about the different cultures through the projects.
“We learned that in Tahiti they make tattoos on their arms, and it’s part of their culture and the leader of the tribe will be covered from his head to feet with tattoos,” she said.
Principal Robb Kittle reiterated Gray’s sentiment that the art program is an integral part of educating students at EES.
“We know that art education and the arts are built into academic performance, so of course, we want to have a strong arts program,” Kittle said, adding the school also provides music education to students.
He also said providing opportunities for parents to see what their children work on throughout the year not only is a benefit for parents, but for the students as well.
“A lot of times the kids that are recognized at our art shows and in our art programs are not always the kids that get recognized during their classes for their academic performance, so this can be another area they can excel in,” Kittle said. “... We want to provide as many opportunities for kids to excel as possible here at Emerson, whether it be in academics, whether it be in athletics, or in the fine arts.”