A Harvest of Art

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Every year, during our annual Art Show at the school where I teach, parents and others say to me, “You did a wonderful job!” To which I always reply, “Our students are truly amazing artists. They have made beautiful pieces of art this year!”

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I’m not trying to deflect a compliment where a compliment is due. It’s just that I truly don’t feel that I have all that much to do with the exquisite art on display. Yes, I, and several others, prepped the artwork and hung it all up. Many others created the delightful reception we enjoy while looking at the 600+ pieces of art hanging on panels and displayed on tables. But I just can’t take credit for the actual art itself.

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One of the beauties of teaching at Redeemer School is getting to be a teacher in the philosophical environment which underpins what we do. One of the philosophies we try to live out as teachers, is that we, ourselves, are not the pinnacle of the classroom. We, the teachers, are not the disseminators of information. Rather, the subject itself, is what we ALL are there to learn from and about. I think of my role as Art Teacher much like a gardener. I have in each of my classrooms a certain number of seeds (the students), in which reside all the things necessary for creativity. It is inherent in each and every child, whether they are Kindergartners or 8th graders. The only thing I do is create an environment for that seed to grow. A little watering here. A lot of sunshine there. A basic trellis made up of the elements of design and a bit of color theory. And very, very, very little pruning, if any at all, since these are such young seedlings, and we really don’t know at this point, what each seed will grow to be. My job as an art teacher is to create a nurturing environment for seeds of all sorts to grow, explore, expand and discover in their unique creative capacities.

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An Art Show is like a harvest of sorts. As a gardener, I get to stand back and view the fruits of our labor. It is truly breathtaking to see it all up at the same time. I myself only get to see these works in their finished state briefly in the classroom setting, right before I tuck them away for safekeeping for the show. We save all their art from the beginning of the school year. And this is only the art they create in my classroom. Art is so infused in the basic curriculum across all grade levels at our school, that the amount of art students create throughout their days there is truly staggering!

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I wish I had taken close-up pictures of individual work. These photos were taken prior to the show. We have many who like to come see the artwork before the huge crowd gets in there. I must admit that I was simply overwhelmed at the tremendous work these kids did. So many of these pieces should be in a museum somewhere! Now THAT would be an art museum I would surely go to!! A museum dedicated to children’s artwork from around the world! Wouldn’t that be stunning? Our show was like that. I always feel it’s a shame to have to take it down so soon.

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I like to put art quotes up around the perimeter of the show. I always hope that folks will read them. I leave you today with a couple of the quotes, this one by Charlotte Mason, whose philosophy of education is the foundation for our school:

 “All beautiful and noble possibilities are present in everyone.”

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And this one, I love, by Frederich Nietzche:

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”

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