As we prepare for our second year of Crossing Boundaries, I have been thinking about what a wonderful experience I had working with students in the School District of Philadelphia this past year. The Crossing Boundaries program is for 7th- and 8th-grade students to learn about the world around them through the study of art from different cultures. Students analyzed our African masks and Navajo weavings and then created either a print or a mask. Read more about the program in the previous post on Crossing Boundaries.
Eighth-graders made printing plates from common household objects: fabric, trim, cardboard, and paper. This kind of art is called a relief collagraph. The best part is inking the plate and making the print: it’s like magic when a student peels the paper away. Students often tell me how amazed they are with the process and how excited they are to see the results. Processes like collagraphy and printmaking get students involved and help them see that art isn’t just about drawing but more about conveying emotions or ideas using all kinds of techniques.
The pieces made by Crossing Boundaries students were displayed at the Barnes in our seminar room—our first K–12 exhibition. We invited students from Universal Vare charter middle school to help with the installation; it was a huge success! The students had a chance to see how an art installation happens and what's involved. I taught them how to use basic math to estimate the arrangement of the prints, and they had to solve problems: arrange the works, estimate the proportions of space on the wall, and manage their time. It was great to see students so intrigued and engaged with the art-making process, and thinking about math as well!
"You should be a math teacher!" -Crossing Boundaries student
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