Thursday, December 1, 2016

How To: Turning Your Classroom into an Art Gallery

One of my favorite events in my career as a teacher was putting on an art show at the end of the term to showcase all of the wonderful work we had done throughout the year.  What I didn't know, was that this would turn into a mega event--an Art Gallery filled to the brim with my students and all of their friends and families! Thankfully, I was able to take pictures before the reception, and today I will share them with all of you, along with the process of turning a pre-kindergarten classroom into a stunning Art Gallery and Art Show!

As our guests walked into the room, they were greeted with a plethora of art. We covered the shelves with black Dollar Tree tablecloths (these came in handy everywhere for this event!) which helped the art "pop" off of the walls and table tops.  We used cardboard boxes covered in the tablecloths as large scale columns with four sides, and placed the taller ones on the floor, shorter/smaller boxes were placed on the tables in the classroom.  Hanging above the columns and shelves were art prints that we had used for inspiration, as well as the children's paintings of animals (close up below). 

Albeit difficult to read, on the shelf in the front part of the room, guests were greeted with a list of "Art Gallery Rules" the children helped to create. We asked for everyone to observe rules like "walking feet", "looking with our eyes", etc. I also had information about the silent auction pieces to benefit the program, and made brochures featuring each of the artists and their cute! 

We had SO MUCH art we had created that I utilized the poles and divider in my classroom to string up some heavy duty yarn and clip our larger scale pieces to it.  This created a nice visual and separation from the other classroom during the showcase.

BIG pieces were hung up on the walls-these particular poster boards were about 24x48 and had been donated to our classroom. For this unit, we focused on murals, specifically large scale, before the children created these fantastic graffiti like custom paintings!

For smaller pieces on art board, I adhered a wooden block on the back to create a stand, seeing as canvas board panels would be way too heavy to hold up on that thin black tablecloth.  These Mondrian pieces were created when the children taped off sections with blue painters tape, and then painted a different color in each section. Some added their own flair with patterns or pictures. 
Like every project we embark on, the first thing we do is read about the featured artist (my favorite art books will be posted soon!) and then we talk about their life, their style, the things we see in their art before putting it on canvas with our own unique spin!

Here is another look at the art panels. 
I personally love to use stretched canvas, but for a classroom full of 4 to 6 year olds who sometimes LOVE to pile on the paint, these art panels are sturdy and fantastic! 
They lay flat, they can fit in a frame, or you can add a wooden block or backing like I did so they can stand upright.

For the Jackson Pollock unit, we took our lesson outside where the kids splattered watered down acrylic paint onto the panels. For Georgia O'Keefe, we used the reference on the wall above the display, as well as looked at real flowers with a magnifying glass to create these floral close ups. 
Both displays have either the image reference, the book we chose to explore, or both!

 These Andy Warhol prints were created by dividing the paper in six sections, stamping large cookie cutters in black paint, and then creating contrast by carefully painting the background of each square a separate color than the "pop image" inside. This project was a classroom favorite!

Van Gogh's sunflowers were created in the same manor as the others, starting the lesson with a book and group discussion before diving right in. The class all felt the overwhelming mood from the yellow, so we decided to paint on yellow construction paper to recreate the feeling. I love the effect this gave the pieces almost as much as I love that this was completely their idea!

I failed to get a decent picture of our Picasso faces next to the Van Gogh sunflowers but we used paper plates and paper collage to create his iconic look of misshapen facial features and bold colors and shapes.

These large scale renditions of the Japanese woodblock wave paintings turned out to be spectacular! I set up the double easel with the same colors seen in the original image, and put only two children at a once on the easel with the reference so they could really use all the space and time they needed for this one. Definitely worth all of their hard work, they were so proud!

Frida is one of my favorites, but realistically some of her work is hard to recreate with it's mature subject matter and fine detail. So instead, we learned about Frida Kahlo as a person and artist, we looked at her works, and we looked at other renditions of the artist, by other artists! This inspired us to create Frida portraits by cutting out paper, adding detail with crayon, and adding texture with tissue paper flower crowns, beads for earrings, and thick wool yarn for her hair. I don't think I could ever pick a favorite project, but this would be in my top three, no doubt! 

The third panel column had our Matisse pieces. These were inspired by one of our favorite books, Drawing With Scissors, which is a wonderful story about Henri Matisse and his paper cut outs. The class used their imagination to create custom pieces depicting flower gardens, mermaids, castles, volcanoes, sharks, and much more! The bright colored construction paper pops off of the black background!

This Kandinsky unit doubled as a math lesson, and I just love when art happens to cross over to math, science, music, gross motor development, reading, and all of the other wonderful things we foster at school. We were inspired by the circles and used different sized cups stamped into different colors of paint to recreate this iconic piece. What I love most about this project is how different every one is, with a limited number of paint colors and sizes of cups. They all have their own personal feel to it wether its a jumbled rainbow one, or all cool colors, each piece is unique, just like that artist that created it! 

Another fun print making project was are Klee study. We searched for shapes in his paintings and decided to use similar rectangle and square legos dipped in black paint. We let them dry over night, and the next day once they were completely dry, we filled in the shapes with watercolors to create contrast from the thick acrylic outlines.

Now, we obviously had more than just the group units and lessons on different famous artists...the kids are such great artists themselves, they had so many pieces they wanted to showcase! We were so lucky to have 20(!) of the project tri-fold presentation boards donated to our classroom. They were big and already had the black background, I knew exactly how we'd use them. I used archival double sided tape to stick the pieces to the poster board...these were either on construction paper, art board, or mixed media art paper so I knew they wouldn't fall off. The thick panels would fall off and could damage it so those were placed on the table in front of the board. The last piece that was on the poster board was their little artist bio. I will do a completely different post on how to create artist bio's, but for now, this was basically their name, age, favorite medium, favorite artist or art movement, and what they want to be when they grow up. 

They were so incredibly proud of their work and after our classroom introduction, they walked to their personal presentation boards making it easier for their parents to find them in the crowd. I loved how this turned out and would absolutely recommend to anyone to do this when putting on a children's show! This also makes it easy to just fold it up and send it home with them for a keepsake!

And finally, our silent auction items. These were so beautiful and the class all worked so well together on the collaborative pieces! We had five large pieces for the silent auction that funded more art supplies and projects and they were hit! This is a great way to fundraise and promote art programs...what parent doesn't love gorgeous art to hang in their home, created by their kids!?

This Art Showcase ended up being better the I ever could have expected. The details by the numbers are as follows:

Number of students: 14
Average age: 5.5
Number of guests that visited our "gallery": 102
Number of guest in the "gallery" for the reception portion: 64 (!)
Number of pieces of artwork on display: 305 (!)
Money raised for future projects: $350 

and would I do it again?

I did! 
Stay tuned for the next one...

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