Greetings! My name is Lesley Murtha, and I am the Studio Art teacher at the Lower School. It has been my pleasure to teach at Northside for 5 years. Before joining this amazing learning community, I received my MA in Art Education from Brooklyn College and taught both close to home – at Brooklyn Art Exchange – and abroad in France. I believe that everyone is an artist and has a unique point of view to share. I see my job as helping our students to express who they are and what they are learning through a variety of “languages”: drawing, painting, sculpture, collage and many more.
Art Is All Around!
All students at the Lower School, Prek-Grade 5, have an opportunity to visit the studio each week. In grades K-5, students have two dedicated art experiences each week: Studio Art and Integrated Art.
Studio Art follows a developmental curriculum that introduces our students to both the practice and history of art making. Every week, students learn about new materials and techniques, and have plenty of opportunities to practice and master them. We also learn about artists, the history of art, artistic vocabulary, and how artists work in the world. Finally, students learn how to reflect on what they see and what they make. Studio Art is taught based on the principles and practices of Teaching for Artistic Behavior, or TAB, and using the Studio Habits of Mind. Students are given the skills, support, resources, space and time to respond to their own interests and ideas through art making. They will have opportunities to explore drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, sculpture, fiber arts, clay and digital media.
Integrated Art connects developmentally appropriate and challenging artistic skills to the Social Studies Project Work in each classroom. The classroom teachers and I plan these sessions collaboratively, sometimes even collaborating with other enrichment teachers. For example, this year in the Grade 2 students are studying the five boroughs and bridges that connect them. In Social Studies, they are learning about the history of the Brooklyn Bridge. In Science, they are studying structural engineering, and in Art we will use all that they have learned to make an accurate and functional model of the Brooklyn Bridge. These interdisciplinary experiences teach children that information from different subjects and disciplines is interdependent – we often refer to these as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Projects.
I would like to share a unique project with you today – one which connects Art to Math studies in 4th and 5th Grade. Enjoy!
FORMS DERIVED FROM A CUBE
MURAL PAINTING BY
GRADE 4 + 5
Grades 4+5 studied geometry and measurement through an investigation called Moving Between Solids and Silhouettes. During this study, students worked with 3-dimensional objects (such as prisms, pyramids, and buildings made of cubes) and worked to develop their spatial visualization skills. Students drew 2-D pictures of 3-D objects from different perspectives and they considered the silhouettes, or shadows, made by 3-D objects. The mathematicians also worked with cubes and boxes to build an understanding of measuring the volume of rectangular prisms.
The students set goals around identifying 2D and 3D solids, drawing them with increasing accuracy and perspective, and finding the volume of 3D shapes as the investigation concluded.
Art + Technology
In Integrated Art grades 4+5 focused on conceptual art and the artist, Sol LeWitt. The students immediately made the connection to their math studies and the 3D forms LeWitt created.
Grades 4+5 were so inspired they decided they wanted to create their own forms derived from a cube as well. Using the 3D software app call Sketchup, a tool for architects and designers, the group set out to create their own unique 3D shapes. After a final design was chosen, the 4+5 artists copied their work onto transparencies; projected them on the wall, taped the shapes and painstakingly painted them in over several months!
As an extension of the project, these students visited El Museo Del Barrio on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. The exhibit we viewed was titled, “The Illusive Eye, An International Survey on Kinetic and Op Art”. The exhibition offered a broad intellectual context for Op art and geometric abstraction, one that goes against the grain of formalist art history. The selection provided a special focus on artwork from the Americas and features major artists from eighteen countries in Latin America and beyond.
Grades 4+5 pointed out that there where many similarities between the 3-dimensional art we were creating and the op art we saw at the museum. Our trip was both informative and inspiring. It was exciting to see how the art we experienced at the museum shaped our understanding and influenced our school mural.