As glorious and celebratory as it is, staging an elementary art show is TOUGH! Several months have passed since the student artists held their annual exhibition of their favorite pieces. The buildup to a show is intense/glorious/crazymaking/terrifying/joyful but that's always the way it feels at the end of the school year. Short artists did an amazing job on their pieces but had their usual wrenching time choosing their favorite. ("But WHY can't I put all of my cars in, Ms. J. They're ALL my best piece!") With little ones, it's frequently a case of Last In First Chosen. They love the most recent addition to their portfolios best because it's their newest work. For most children, the process of doing artwork is much more satisfying than the final project, so the most recent piece is naturally their favorite.
The incredible impact of over 500 pieces of children's art on display is hard to describe. We had some fabulous volunteers who helped put the display together as well as gathering everything at the end of the night, and it was all worth it. Our children walk the four blocks between our school and the City Hall where the exhibit is staged. The sound we heard when the first group - kindergarten and first grades - walked into the large room was a loud, collective "Woooooah!" Mission accomplished.
We learn so much from collections of children's art. Notice how they experiment with color. Watch for partnerships - when children share ideas or techniques with each other. With student-centered art, every piece represents exploration that matters to the artist. I'm in awe of their creativity and will share a selection of artists' statements, as well.
Questions for this year: Size? Venue? Timing? Invite other schools? Include art from other members of the learning community? Outreach and publicity? Chocolate?
For more pictures of our celebration of short people art, visit the Showtime! gallery.
Here is coverage of our art show in our local paper, the Shelton-Mason County Journal.
Here are a few more reasons that have come to me lately - enjoy numbers seven through ten in my continuing series.
7) All the important people wear smiles.
I love my audience and it's so rarely a tough crowd. When children come to me for art, they're always primed and ready. They're sometimes a little jiggly but that's a good thing. High energy translates to some amazing artwork. I'm really spoiled by the constant stream of beamy faces. If I'm out of context (like the grocery store or on the playground in the middle of the day) children holler their greetings: "Hey, art teacher - it's ME!" My sweetie always knows when we've encountered one of my ducklings in our wanderings. There is nothing like that smile of recognition and it's fun to introduce myself to families.
8) Amazing discoveries happen every day.
"That cool shade of mud by the leaky faucet by the corral - you can make it by mixing green and red and blue." Imagine! "Dried paint from the stamp bucket makes amazing texture for my picture. I got it in my hair and some in my ear, too. Do you think it'll come out? Ever?" "Did you know that this much glue takes a long, long, long time to dry?" (I always try to look surprised for this one...)
9) The complexities of the Universe are explained to me by short people who know everything about everything.
"My dad likes sharks so I made him a red one because that's his favorite color." "I looked at this dinosaur in a book when I drew it but I think it changed since last week." "My paper weaving was broken but Cassidy oppositted it." "Dragons just take longer to draw now that I'm seven. I draw the fancy ones now."
10) Anticipation is delicious.
We're getting ready for the first ever whole-school art show. I've picked the brains (and the old posts) from the wise people on a couple of art teachery lists I read regularly for survival hints. I've found everything from mounting ideas to logistical methods for hanging that much artwork to checklists that experienced art show mavens use for their efforts. I'm in real danger of overdosing on child art but that's nothing new. The goosebumpy cleverness of kids' offerings has me grinning like a loon but I've made some decisions about how to gather art next year. I'll do portfolio collections differently and start a little bit earlier. It's sixteen days until "hanging day" and I have about three quarters of the art in, mounted, artist statmented (gotta love poetic license...) and ready to go.
Life in the fast lane of art is a good thing.