Lately I have been reflecting on how the new art studio has affected my teaching. I am still in awe of the space and realize that it has become what I used to dream about—an inspiring creative space for discovery, exploration, deep thought, and joy. It is truly an art teacher’s dream room!

Friends School of Minnesota’s art teacher Laura Pereira (on the right) started teaching off a cart in 2008. Now students come to her in our brand new art studio, completed in the fall of 2014.

The kindergarten class has been working with clay and thinking about two questions: “What things can be used a tool?” and “How many different ways can I use tools?” In their process of exploration, they used both traditional clay tools and various found objects such as shells, bottle caps, wooden spools, and old jewelry. They discovered a whole myriad of textures and patterns that these objects can make and then turned their clay pieces in to wind chimes.

After some initial exploration with watercolors, I asked first and second grade students the question: “What do artists and scientists have in common?” I was delighted with the responses I received. As one student put it: “Artists and scientists observe and experiment to discover things.” I don’t think I could have said it better myself! I am sure that their responses were also influenced by their insect studies in their classrooms. By connecting with Sally and Alissa’s science unit, and by developing an understanding of the materials through experimentation, the students produced incredibly beautiful and carefully studied insect watercolor paintings.

Third and fourth grade students also spent time at the beginning of the year experimenting with watercolors and thinking about the question “How can artists help us see new things?” To help answer this question, the class looked at the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe. Elizabeth put it beautifully in saying: “Georgia O’Keeffe paints things that are sort of abstract and sort of not and she mixes up colors so you can see it in lots of different ways.” In their own paintings, students experienced for themselves how experimentation, close observation, and abstraction helps artists view natural objects in a new light.

These are just a few examples of how students are thinking through making art. Every day I am impressed by their creative thought and how they express it in their artwork. It is just this kind of work that will help them better understand their world and expand their vision of what the world could become.

– Laura Pereira
Art Teacher