Learn about our process below!
We began the installation process by creating maquettes of what we wanted our painted plastic bottles to look like. What’s a maquette?
Learn about our process below!
We began the installation process by creating maquettes of what we wanted our painted plastic bottles to look like. What’s a maquette?
Do you ever feel stuck? Uninspired? Challenged? Did I already mention stuck? It’s the worst! Many of us have experienced the daunting task of filling up an empty page with words, tackling a tough math problem, or turning a stark white canvas into a work of art. That uncomfortable feeling of where to start? never disappears, even with experience. Luckily, with help from her art teacher, Vashti, the main character of our story, discovers that by making a simple mark–something as small as a dot– one can open up a world of creativity!
Vashti’s confidence to experiment, think big, and expand her ideas grows exponentially after getting over her initial fear of getting started. Vashti becomes such a prolific dot maker that her work is exhibited in a gallery and later serves as inspiration for other timid artists who doubt their talents and abilities. Vashti is able to empathize with a young admirer of her work and gives him the same tool her art teacher gave her, the invitation to make a mark and see where it takes you.
For the most part, our Maury artists are self-assured dot makers and challenged themselves to create dots that even Vashti would find inspiring. We used oil pastels and collage materials to create mixed media designs. Our finished products are displayed in one dot-tastic patchwork in the downstairs hall of the East building. These creations will also serve as the inspiration for this year’s Maury Note Cards. The most bold and innovative work of art from each grade level will be selected by members of the Capitol Hill Village community and printed into quality note cards that make wonderful gifts around the holidays. Not only do they make great gifts, they also help fund our fabulous PTA. Look for the 2013-2014 editions on sale this fall!
There’s a lot of talk around Maury these days about collaboration and empathy as a result of becoming one of the country’s newest Ashoka Changemaker Schools. These buzz words sound nice in print, but until you are actually asked to put them into practice, you may not ever fully understand what it means or how it feels to experience the challenges and rewards of working with others. Many of the specials teachers at Maury are making it their personal goal this year to give students the opportunity to work in teams so that they may become experts at recognizing the feelings and needs of their collaborators. As stated on the Ashoka website, “Everyone must be comfortable working in a team. In particular, as rules are in flux, as people move fluidly in and between formerly homogenous groups, cultures, and societies, and as power is shared by all, every person needs an ever higher level of empathetic skill in order to thrive. We need applied empathy—the ability to understand what other people are feeling and to act in response in a way that avoids harm and contributes to positive change.”
Collaboration takes communication, knowing when to speak up or back down, acknowledging other’s ideas and letting go of complete control. When people come together to collaborate on a task, their is the initial discomfort of accepting another persons help, wrestling with their input and finding ways to strengthen an original idea with additional insight. In the art studio we discuss the pros and cons of collaboration on a daily basis. We know that when we begin with an original idea and are asked to welcome someone else’s ideas into that space, there may be disagreement. The disagreement then opens the door for students to get practice speaking kindly with one another, offering suggestions, and reaching a compromise. On the plus side, collaborating with another person may prove to enhance an original idea, leading to a stronger, more successful product in the end.
During our third week of school, Ms. Bomba introduced paint to the list of media available in the studio and asked her art students to demonstrate proper painting technique on the empty canvas before them. She wanted students to create as many different line and shape combinations and for the shapes to maintain their negative space (remain empty inside). We discussed that all things are essentially made up of lines and that a shape is simply a line that connects. These are the images we looked at to get a better feel for line and shape. Then we used magic lines made of yarn to practice.
When the signal was given, students were then asked to travel with their paint palettes to a new canvas and begin adding their mark on the canvas of a former classmate’s. At first, students were nervous. “What if I don’t like the way my classmate changes my work?” asked students. “What if they don’t follow my vision?” Well, what if?
I asked students to trust themselves and the intentions of their peers and to look for the positive effects of collaboration. After 4 canvas switches, the tone of the studio changed from anxious to excited. The twists and turns their original painting took at the controls of 4 different artists was thrilling!
The gorgeous and lively canvases were then re-purposed to create one giant, collaborative Ashoka Empathy Tree! Come check it out at the entrance to the corridor between the East and West buildings.
The studio boasts some of the best windows in all of Maury! An entire wall of our art making space allows for warm, natural light and views of the thoughtful new landscaping below. Perhaps the best part of our studio panorama is the mighty tree that we witness in all 4 seasons!
For those of you who haven’t had the chance to peek your head in to the art studio yet this year, allow me to host you on a brief virtual tour with highlights of some of our studio’s systems and routines!
All of Maury’s special subject classrooms use an evaluation system called Positive Paws for grades Kindergarten through 5th grade. Positive Paws is a tool that allows students to reflect on the social, technical, and emotional aspects of learning. At the end of each class period, students carefully consider the Positive Paws rubric and discuss how they worked together as a class to meet expectations.
The Positive Paws rubric has four sections, each scored from one to four, with a maximum total score of 16 points. The rubric is different for each class, but all address the day’s objectives and classroom culture. Most importantly, Positive Paws gives the students a chance to reflect on the class, to identify what worked well and what needs to be improved.
In line with Maury’s Responsive Classroom approach, Positive Paws does not rely on extrinsic rewards to hold students accountable. Students are proud to represent their class when they earn threes and fours together. Positive Paws allows students to reflect on their new-found knowledge, share a unique approach to solving a challenging task, and celebrate a time when a classmate experienced a brilliant breakthrough.
Below is the Positive Paws rubric specifically tailored for art class
Stool Ninjas is a new tool created to help motivate students to be more aware of the the way they move throughout the studio. Larger, more involved projects require more movement and transition around the studio. For 30 students at a time to navigate around large tables and stools on their way to the sinks, drying racks, supply bins and kiln room means a greater potential for spills and accidents. Stool Ninjas is a way for students to put nimble, quiet, and safe movement to practice. Like Ninjas, we must be able to control our bodies in silence and without drawing attention to ourselves. As one student put it, “We must move in shadows.” A point is rewarded to a class at the end of our lesson if they were able to demonstrate safe and quiet stool use and responsible movement throughout the studio.
Sketch and Reflect is a new area of the studio where students can elect or be nominated to take a moment away from the group to refocus. Similar in parts to a “Chill Out Chair” or “Vacation Spot,” Sketch & Reflect uses drawing as a means to deescalate a situation or preoccupy an over excited body or mind. Students who visit Sketch & Reflect are not being punished, but are asked to reflect on why they might need to take a moment before rejoining the class. So far, I am very pleased by how students have taken ownership of the area and been able to see it as a tool for self-regulation. From an artists point of view, it will be an interesting way to look back on the year as a collaborative set of sketches made by students in a state of contemplation and redirection.
At long last! A Smartboard for the studio! Although I am still using chart paper to post my objectives at the moment, our dear friend, Mr. Franklin is working tirelessly to get us up and running soon!
Our littlest Maury artists are demonstrating the proper way to line up at the door on their way out of class. One foot in the Blue World, another in the Yellow World and a straight line down the middle! Practice makes perfect!
The studio is always open and eager for visitors and volunteers. Feel free to come by anytime to create art and learn along side of us!
PS- Thanks for the hundreds of bottles and socks you all have collected for us so far. I am so appreciative of your commitment to saving and transporting recycled materials to school each day!
PPS- Check out our Pollock installations!
“When I say artist I mean the man who is building things – creating molding the earth – whether it be the plains of the west – or the iron ore of Penn. It’s all a big game of construction – some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen.”–Jackson Pollock
“The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. –Jackson Pollock
Victory! We did it! Parents, students, teachers, all of us! That’s one week under our belts. One real good week, I should say. There’s an undeniable electricity in the air at Maury. We’re riding the high from our exhilarating DC CAS results and channeling that focus, academic rigor, and productivity into a new school year full of potential!
As a kid, my parents always taught me that change was a good thing (Hi mom and dad! If you look closely at the picture above you’ll notice my dad representing the Maury Cougar Running Club on our hike in Sedona, Arizona!). Change is everywhere as you walk through the doors of Maury Elementary school. There are amazing new teachers with proven records of academic success. New trailers to house our growing population and diverse course offerings (Puede decir, Espanol?). New smartboards in art and thinktank, computers to elevate our technology curriculum, and ipads to inspire a tech savvy generation of learners. A new, permanent art installation created by Maury students brings the stairwells to life in the East building and new students fill the halls with bright eyes and curiosity.
Perhaps the biggest change of all is the exciting challenge of educating the next generation of changemakers. As one of the newest Ashoka Changemaker Schools, many of our students will learn to navigate the rest of their elementary education as people who understand what it means to live with empathy. New technology or new attitudes. They’re all a part of what makes this school year exciting.
After setting up basic procedures in the studio, such as expectations and safety (ask your child about Stool Ninjas), I plan to dive into some serious art making right away. Learners will be held to the high expectations outlined in Studiomaury’s Positive Paws Year 3.
If behavioral expectations are met and students demonstrate that they are responsible enough to handle more advanced and involved processes, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. Here’s a sneak peek into what lies ahead:
In collaboration with our very own Aunt Lizzy, 4th and 5th grade will cast on to a contemporary knitting unit inspired by artist Mark Newport. If time and resources allow it, ALL grade levels will participate in one of the following clay units revolving around either African Face Jugs, relief and surface techniques, traditional vessels, or fictional creature creation. Plaster sculpture, wire portraits, 3D abstractions and more elevated painting techniques via acrylics and watercolor are all in our future. Don’t forget printmaking, site-specific artwork, and Visual Thinking Routines! Although I will never complain about how well taken care of I am as an art teacher in DCPS, there are a few specialty items that we still need to help us create the extra unique projects I have in mind. I have created a donorschoose.org project to help fund those lessons here. Recycled items and everyday household items are always in high demand so if you’re in the habit of collecting soft, plastic bottles, egg cartons, interestingly shaped cardboard, fabric scraps, tall socks, canned goods, etc., please place them in the clear tub in the lobby. Thanks in advance for your support and enthusiasm for art at Maury!
I apologize to all my loyal studiomaury readers out there. There have just been so many exciting happenings at Maury that I can’t seem to upload pictures fast enough! Because the blog will likely take a rest this summer with less artists to document around school, I didn’t want to leave you all hanging quite so soon. Enjoy a brief and random recap of some of the latest and greatest work from Maury artists during the Spring of 2012!
Third grade gets introduced to illusion artist, MC Escher,
students demonstrate the proper technique,
and before you know it, there are 22 illusionists creating deceptive 2D drawings that appear to be popping off the page!
Second grade has been hard at work designing and constructing vessels from everyday objects after studying the Zulu people of South Africa and their inventive new way of making baskets from recycled telephone wire.
Our vessels involved less weaving and tons more glue, tape, and paper mache!
4th and 5th grade are in the thick of their art history puppets thanks to many of your wonderful donations.
After weeks of construction and paper mache, I can’t wait to reveal the finished products soon!
Preschool and PreK have become experts on the moon as part of their rock study. We have mastered the lunar phases, created visual textures to mimic the rough terrain of our moon’s surface, and even carved the moon’s phases out of Oreos!
Fifth grade takes a field trip to pull screen prints at Lou Stovall’s home studio and visits his amazing printmaking exhibition at American University’s Katzen center
Lou reads his poetry before we tour the gallery
More to come soon on all art fronts. Stay tuned!
What else can be said that hasn’t already been stated about the fabulous student art night that took place throughout the halls of Maury Elementary School a few short weeks ago? The culminating event with our fantastic partners at the National Gallery of Art only proved further why collaboration among schools and institutions such as the National Gallery are so important. The ladies of the gallery have showered our students with the most quality, rigorous and entertaining art education imaginable. As an art educator myself, I can vouch for how lucky and unique an opportunity our students get to be able to experience a world class art education with one of the most esteemed art museums in the world.
Jeff Hopkins, a visiting artist from New York, put on a wildly entertaining and interactive performance summing up our student’s knowledge of the many artists and art styles introduced throughout our tenure with the Gallery.
My favorite part of the evening, apart from the dessert buffet and model magic, was watching parents learn from their children. Students have become so fluent in the ways of the museum that their knowledge far surpasses that of the average person. Families were so eager to soak up the stories and facts our students had to share. The level of engagement from everyone involved was at an all time high.
I loved seeing the faces of our third graders, knowing that next year, the beautiful gallery of work that hung before them would be theirs to share with the rest of the school.
The feeling of accomplishment that many Maury students and staff members were experiencing around 10:30 this morning was unreal. Before homeroom was over, we had already broken ground with shovels and pickaxes in the front yard of Maury and begun planting 6 trees with the amazing Casey Trees organization. Under the leadership of our amazing Mrs. Ford, the entire third grade and a few second graders from our Be Water Wise team were rocking neon orange vests and getting down and dirty in the name of school yard greening and beautification!
I think Mrs. Bonds in the main office said it best when she expressed how much joy it gave her to watch our students from the office window, working together, smiling, and truly enjoying the experience of contributing to something so authentic, so important, and something so long lasting as the planting of a young tree in their elementary school yard. There is something very profound about knowing that the hole you dug will house and protect strong roots, a sturdy trunk, blossoming petals, and swaying leaves for years and years to come.
I was proud to see no conflict among peers, only encouragement, kindness, and congratulations. We are lucky that our students and staff members are encouraged to participate and initiate the kind of activities that promote such stewardship.
Look at us go and watch us grow!
The concept of home is very important to me. I like to make the spaces I inhabit feel comfortable and inspiring. I’ll be honest, I spend a lot of time in Studiomaury and sometimes it feels like my second home. Although most of the time I’m busy prepping student projects, researching, creating demos, or lesson planning, I do occasionally slip into my own world and create art for me.
A thoughtful parent dropped off an old desk calendar full of 365 stunning works of art throughout history. She thought I may be able to do something with them. She probably intended that I apply them to student work, but I was so fond of the glossy images that I spent most of parent-teacher conference day listening to music, cutting, taping, and assembling my wall collage for me. I am glad to know the students are equally as intrigued by the diversity, color, and complexity of art throughout the ages. Most of our rectangle discussions this week have revolved around the pieces that jump out to us and why they are our favorites. A fair number of discussions have also been about naked vs. nude and the frequency of nudity in art. Luckily, the National Gallery was there to back me up as our fourth and fifth graders navigated through numerous nude sculptures during Art Around the Corner. Topics such as nudity in art, race, diversity, and religion can often be radical, controversial, and polarizing, especially when discussed at school–most of the time such discussions are fascinating, eye-opening, and a learning experience for all.
Speaking of Art Around the Corner. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that a great day was had by all. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think of how lucky I am to spend Wednesday afternoons learning things even an art teacher doesn’t already know about art. I find new sculptures to love, something that speaks to me in a George Bellows painting, a hundredth glance at a Monet and the chance to clue a curious fourth grader into the world of masters like good old Claude.
“That Moe-net charachter you’re asking about is actually pronounced Moe-nay, and that painting you like so much is actually adored by many for the same reasons you just stated. His blurry brush strokes, his hazy colors, the way parliament looks like a medieval castle in the distance, the boat detail in the foreground, that is why we love art, why we love to look at it, make keen observations about it, and state our tastes and opinions.”
Claude Monet. The Houses of Parliament, Sunset. 1903. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
There was almost something poetic about tracing contours of Graft by sculptor, Roxy Paine, in the rain. Especially for me, who had devoted an entire unit to contour line drawing with 5th grade!
This may not be my very best photographic composition and I apologize to Kianna who is a truly stunning girl, but this shot really summed up the joy and excitement of crossing over from seeing the older art in the West Building to the newer art in the East Building. Interactive art rules! It’s going to be a great year of museum education, can’t you tell?
This week, classes are reading, Ish, a story by Peter H. Reynolds. Together, we are empathizing with Ramon, the main character who becomes frustrated when his older brother teases him for creating less-than-perfect artwork. We discussed the concept of creating “ish-art.” Ish art is work that is unique to the artist. Ish art is wonderful because it doesn’t have to look real or perfect, it just needs to look “ish!” Each of us creates art differently and that’s what makes art so liberating. Even Ms. Bomba creates Ms. Bomba-ish work. Do you think Jackson Pollock would have become as famous as he did if his work wasn’t Pollock-ish?
Ramon is just like a Maury student. He keeps a journal, or sketchbook, of his ish-drawings! Students had fun adding the word ish to things as we sketched. We discussed how “ish” can apply to our writing too. It is important to get our ideas on paper without spending too much time thinking and rethinking whether or not our idea is good enough. What we write initially may not make it to the final draft but it will help flush out our thoughts so that we can move forward during Writer’s Workshop.
A page from Ms. Bomba’s sketchbook that she kept when she was working in Native Alaskan villages in rural, AK. Stories, poems, notes, and doodles can all serve as inspiration in our sketchbooks.
A picture from Kingston’s sketchbook. Kingston was asked to illustrate himself creating art. He drew a sophisticated interpretation of how he loves to paint from his easel.
Our word wall is accumulating an impressive array of art vocabulary.