Fay’s art teachers are demonstrating their ingenuity this term, assigning a series of projects that allow students to develop their artistic skills with only the materials that they have at home.
“My first assignment after March break was for every student to take inventory of what art supplies they have at home and to share that with me,” says art teacher Jane McGinty. “Then I had to reassess everything,” she notes, as she discovered that while some kids had a full set of art supplies, others might only have two pencils to work with. Jane decided to continue with the master painting project she had planned to do with her seventh-grade students but helped her students to think creatively about their materials. She taught students without paints to blend colored pencils using a Q-tip coated in coconut oil or Pam cooking spray to achieve a more painterly effect. Some students used cardboard for their canvases, while others painted with coffee and kitchen spices like turmeric and chili powder. Jane's sixth-grade students continued their focus on folk art by learning about David Drake, known as Dave the potter, an African American slave. They drew designs for face jugs and wrote couplets to accompany them.
Art teacher Billy Claire has been encouraging his Digital Photography students to use their skills to create a photo journal, a combination of photos and writing, documenting their COVID-19 experiences. In the same way that older generations look back on moments like hearing that President Kennedy had been shot or that the Challenger Space Shuttle had exploded, Billy hopes that his students will use photography to create a record of their experience through this historic moment in their lives.
However, the art teachers have also embraced a slate of new projects that encourage the kids to have fun and use artistic expression as an outlet. Billy and Visual Art Coordinator Chris Kimball’s seventh-grade classes participated in the #betweenartandquarantine challenge organized by several major museums to recreate famous art masterpieces using items that they have lying around the house. Primary students in Cathy Gruetzke-Blais’ art classes joined Billy’s Lower School classes in creating art in the style of Andy Goldsworthy, who uses objects found in nature to create his art. Jane’s sixth-grade students learned about the artist Hanoch Piven, who uses everyday objects to create portraits of well-known people, and some created their own Piven portraits. Meanwhile, Billy and Chris’s students also participated in “The Chicken Challenge,” where students have to make a chicken out of whatever materials they can find around them and share a photo.
During distance learning, art projects have offered students a welcome opportunity to exercise their creativity away from computer screens. For some families, the projects have even offered the chance to spend time being creative together. Parents and siblings could be seen as props and participants in the masterpiece recreation challenge, and Billy notes that some of his students have been doing his assignments together as a family activity.
[Art at top shown clockwise: “Beethoven” by Lucas A. ‘23, Mermaid by Tobin W. ‘28, landscape painted with spices by Mike T. ‘22, Dr. Gachet by Connor G. ‘22]