Monday, April 6, 2015

Teaching art in elementary grade school – mix media and relief print murals (Jr. primary grades)

In the trees
Brodie Resource Library
April 2015
created by grades 1/2 students
Hyde Park Public School
Teacher: Susan Lieske
Art Educator: Brian Holden

I have been giving art instruction to a grade one/two split class at Hyde Park Public School in Thunder Bay. I have been very fortunate to be paired with a highly creative minded teacher, Susan Lieske. These eager and enthusiastic young artists have undertaken a few projects with me since November.

Two projects that were recently completed in this particular classroom are currently on display at the Brodie Resource Library here in the city of Thunder Bay. I was approached by a committee from the library who saw the vision of public and school based art on a few walls in the library system.

Yours truly assisting a student to make a cut paper shape and modified acrylic paint monoprint.

The first project is a series of panels that have the option to be displayed either in a vertical or horizontal presentation. In the first of the 2 art displays I had long open shelf tops available in the venue and  thus arranged the panels in one long panorama style display.
This particular series explores Animal Totems in the theme. Students chose animals indigenous to this region and working from photo references made a sketch onto a thin flat plate made of dense styrofoam. Water based block printing inks were applied to the plate surface using synthetic soft rubber brayers. Prints were made onto pre-cut squares of black mulberry paper. I mounted the prints onto black mat board panels.

I also connected the animals to regional first nation culture and we learned the name of each of the creatures from the Ojibwe language.  The full list of createures are listed on the last panel that is included below.







Black bear





In a related pursuit Susan Lieske had her students research their animals, look at their significance from a first nations connection and put all of this into hand made little accordion fold booklets. These are also available for the public to look at and read just below the panels in a wall pamphlet system.

The second more recent project I have this class was the creation of a mix media collective mural.  It began with me drawing 2 large tree shapes over a 4 x 7 ft arrangement of bristol board pieces into a grid of 4 up by 6 across (for a total of 24 rectangles). I encouraged each student to retain the bare branch shape passing through their rectangles but to bring each part of the tree to life using drawing, painting, relief stamping and collage. The mural is titled In the trees. It is a large colourful mosaic of colours, shapes and textures and also the viewer can make out the tree shapes that define everything when it is assembled. I think that each individual panel is a work of art unto itself.

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