Last week our schools had the privilege of experiencing a hands-on workshop with Catherine Alice Michaelis. This week, the same students from Clinton Middle School and Rosewood Elementary were able to visit the Craft in America Center in order to view and discuss the objects featured in the NATURE episode in person.
Monday morning, the Center welcomed dozens of middle school students through its door. The entire class was given time to view the exhibition and talk amongst themselves. The conversations became louder, but once asked to speak about the exhibition, the students suddenly became quiet. Luckily, there are always a few smiling, and even giggling, faces just waiting to burst. We find that even though the older students tend to shy away from explaining why they enjoy a certain work of art, they are more likely to ask questions and to adeptly describe what a piece looks like to them. For example, for Mary Merkel-Hess’s Redfield, they asked “Why is it red? It looks like french fries covered in Ketchup.” Or Michelle Holzapfel’s Beginner’s Vase they asked “Is it a ladder? A chair? Is it both?” Their questions and opinions reveal a lot about their perspectives and exposure to art as viewers.
On Friday afternoon we had the elementary students arrive at the Center ready to talk about Preston Singletary’s glasswork displayed in the front window. The 5th graders enthusiastically demonstrated a strong grasp of color and texture as they described the artist’s feather and salmon as round, smooth, curvy, bronze-ish, yellow, brown, clear, orange, and silver. After our very lively conversation involving visual thinking strategies, we watched clips from the artists in the NATURE show. The student’s “ooohs” and “aahhhs” reminded us how genuinely intrigued they are and how the artwork can inspire.