Printer Friendly

"Designer" Sports Figures.

Not many art classes happen in one of the last three room schoolhouses in the county. Teaching art, in the hamlet of New Suffolk, Long Island, to 13 multi-grade elementary students took on the characteristics of a "family." Meeting weekly with my 3rd-6th graders, I strived to create challenging learning opportunities that could encourage not only artistic expression but active discussion and empathetic outcomes. The 6th Arts Olympiad created by ICAF offered the platform to accomplish these goals by embracing the "artist-athlete" concept, which connected societal reflection and healthy attitudes by addressing the rising obesity crisis in the country. My students' ideas and creativity became part of a global exchange where they could see themselves sharing beyond their local community.

The artist-athlete ideal of the creative mind and healthy body permitted a constructive entry into self-image, lifestyle habits, and understanding that being healthy is not only a physical activity, but integral to mental health, too. It was important for students to see the interconnectedness between social wellness, art, and sport, and confront the prominent societal depiction of the artist and athlete as separate entities. Society has always had a penchant for categories, but in reality we need unity and freedom to express and be our best self.

As a class, we talked about the characteristics of the artist and that of the athlete, and how passion and effort provided the drive to push ourselves to reach goals that could impact society as well. We discussed the shared aspirations of art and sports and how this opportunity could deconstruct arbitrary categories that impede on a child's psyche and self-esteem. The students spoke about times they too felt pressured to be or look a certain way by society at large. The topics continued into the students' own conversations. The students shared and exchanged ideas, viewpoints, stories, and memories.

The art table buzzed with lively conversation and collaborative effort. Community was building and overflowing into the artwork.

Each student created a composition based on their favorite sport, or the one they admired, because not all of them took part in sports. The lesson framework incorporated color theory, the science and art of using color, along with the principles of art and the elements of design. The lesson framework incorporated color theory, the science and art of using color, along with the principles of art and the elements of design. This provided a visual vocabulary from which they could communicate their ideas. To begin, students were asked to explore photos and videos of athletes on their laptop or computer to help develop their own sports figures in action. To further understand the anatomy of body and how it moves when in motion, they posed artist mannequins to replicate movements during sports activities. Several students physically recreated the poses around the art table, sharing the fun with their classmates. Acting out the movements of the athlete also created a deeper connection to the act of drawing the sports figures. The challenge of making the figures come to life became easier as students visualized the correlation.

The entire composition addressed certain aspects of art and design. Focusing mainly on pattern, repetition, rhythm and movement, with line, color and space, students envisioned their sports figures connecting the concepts and ideas that surfaced in previous art class discussions.

Each of them chose a color scheme, multiple patterns, while demonstrating depth with foreground, mid-ground, and background. Putting the lacrosse players in the foreground, mid-ground, and background led one student to remark how their artwork looked more realistic. They were starting to really grasp the visual vocabulary of an artist.

Students then challenged themselves to create patterns and designs for the sports figures and their respective environment. Using their imagination and creativity they came up with several patterns and designs that best emulated the action in their artwork. One student created a pattern of a heartbeat to signify the racing heart of a soccer player.

Students were excited to apply color theory to create an energetic environment for their artistic composition based on color families that we explored in an earlier lesson. Some of the choices were complementary colors for stronger contrast or "pop" to enliven their sports figures and cool or warm colors to evoke emotions. One student chose a black-and-white color scheme to make his tennis players "pop" while another felt her cool colors depicted the concentration needed to play softball. After a final outline with black sharpie to accentuate the design, the students' artwork not only radiated with the vivacity of the sport, but captured their passion as well.

However, only one artwork from each school can be chosen for the Arts Olympiad. It was difficult to choose from the exciting array of work. This was a teachable moment. Students had the opportunity to be the art jurors in the selection process. The Art Olympiad became our juried exhibition where the student artists would present their art to their classmates as jurors.

They learned how to critique each other's artwork based on composition, originality, theme, effort, and clarity. We also talked about the larger concepts of subjectivity and objectivity and that jurors preference of what they like or dislike can come into play when selecting a work. The students learned that it was important to value their own work and make a constructive argument on what makes their artwork special when developing the presentation. I asked the students to offer a positive com-ment about each other's work and they replied twofold. Students who already demonstrated confidence turned to encourage their classmates by highlighting their color choices, amazing designs, and intricate patterns!

To break down the juror process, students needed to think of an analogy to everyday events they previously experience.

Student examples, like trying out for a role in play or a position on team, receiving a gold medal in gymnastics at the Olympics, or getting a solo in choir, helped them gain a better understanding of the juror selection process. Students gave a five-minute presentation to the jurors about creating their artwork. All student artwork was exhibited, and students carefully examined the work. Afterwards, anonymous ballots were handed out to write the name of a fellow student. It wasn't easy to choose only one artwork from this vibrant and dynamic group of artists.

However, once the ballots were counted with much enthusiasm, one student received the most votes from our student jurors for his bold black-and-white composition of two tennis players on the court. It was sixth-grader, Henry Langmack! Well done!

Participating in the Arts Olympiad was the catalyst for my students to understand art as a holistic learning process where they were able to experiment, create, and refine their ideas.

Sharing and listening to each other's perspectives allowed them to grow and appreciate that their artistic voice was connected to a community beyond their own. Our "Designer" Sports Figures opened a pathway towards engagement in social practice with the students realizing that their art and creativity can address issues and encourage change through collaborating with a bigger arena, the world.

Che Sabalja, MA, MS

Art Educator

Caption: Caroline Fannon

Caption: Lila Dailey

Caption: Anna Szymzak

Caption: Langmack at work developing his black-and-white design. His sports figures artwork was ultimately chosen by the class to participate in the 6th Worlds Children's Festival, hosted by ICAF.

Caption: Henry Langmack
COPYRIGHT 2020 International Child Art Foundation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2021 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Sabalja, Che
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2020
Previous Article:Teen Brains, Today's Science, Brighter Future.
Next Article:Art in Abuja.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |