Art Enrichment bridges gap between students, local children

Laura Lofgren

Class teaches young artists the basics

Every Monday for nine weeks of the semester, young artists come to Kent State to learn about art. They are part of the Art Enrichment program, which helps the group of 4- to 14-year-olds learn the basic concepts of art and helps art education majors further their teaching skills.

Juliann Dorff, lecturer in the School of Art, teaches Art Education Practicum, the second course in a series of theory-based requirements for art education majors. This course teaches students how to plan lessons for each class and helps them learn how to instruct pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students.

Currently, there are 10 students enrolled in Art Education Practicum. They create newsletters that are sent home with the children to their parents with updates on the activities they have been doing during each lesson.

“Students thought metaphorically about bridges,” Dorff said. “What other bridges are there in our lives?”

This past week, two of the four classes took blank-canvas shoes, painted and embellished them, corresponding with a “Where are we going?” theme.

Another group had a sub-theme of “Peace, man,” where teachers got into character and dressed as hippies for the lesson. The young artists created marbled paper structures with symbols of peace, such as peace signs and doves. They were asked to choose colors representing themselves and someone they were at peace with.

“For example, ‘I’m yellow and my mom’s red,'” Dorff said. “The student marbled paper with those two colors and drew doves.”

Other materials used in the program include clay, stamps, tempera and acrylic paint, colored pencils, crayons, oil pastels, watercolors, found objects and construction paper.

The student teachers are required to write a research paper before the lessons, connecting their students by finding artists that relate to what they want to teach.

Katie Straniero, sophomore art education major, had a recent lesson involving Norman Rockwell’s “The Gossips,” a painting of various people “in a line of communication that may receive skewed information as the message gets passed along.”

Straniero said this teaches students to recognize that communicated information may or may not be trustworthy. Straniero showed two advertisements to her class, a group of 6-and 7-year-olds. She showed them the front of a Lucky Charms box and a “Got Milk?” ad. This taught the students to identify examples of reliable and unreliable messages of nutrition.

The artists then created their own positive messages with string, paper, cardboard and tissue paper. One student’s message was, “Cereal with milk is good for you.”

Straniero also taught a lesson that showed her students a visual of a gray sky and water.

“To prompt (them), I had them make up stories,” she said.

The artists made up stories about space aliens and cheese that sunk to the bottom of the sea from a ship.

Straniero then had them draw an imaginative scene on paper and place plastic on top with another painted scene to continue the picture.

“One student painted water and all the colors and sparkles from the sun on the water and underneath, colored fish,” Straniero said.

At the end of nine weeks, the children will present an art show, where their works will be displayed in their classrooms-turned-galleries.

This year’s exhibit and reception will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in Rooms 212 and 214 of the Art Building.

Contact School of Art reporter Laura Lofgren at [email protected]