‘Hands on Art’ – West U Elementary Students Participate in New Art Enrichment Program

October 10, 2011

When the need arose for an in-school art curriculum at West University Elementary School, a talented group of parents began organizing an original, volunteer-led art enrichment program called “Hands On Art.”

Fifth-graders Grace Piland, Elena Heck, Margaret Mire, Alexis Paget and Sophia Maioriello participate in a parent-led class on children’s book illustration using pastels and watercolors.

Now, these coordinators—along with about 250 volunteers—lead hour-long, interactive classes for all 51 classes.

“The first lesson was a great success,” said Janine Schueppert, who came up with the initiative. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of the school administration, specifically Tracey Wyatt, the volunteer coordinators, the lesson coordinators and the class instructors.”

Schueppert likens the instructor training to a water brigade.

“The lesson coordinator teaches the first class of the day, and the next class instructor sits in to learn how to lead the lesson,” she said. “All classes use the same materials and supplies, but with instructors overlapping like that, each class is a unique experience. The coordinators Karen Coveler, Katherine Tramonte, and Wendy Yu did a fabulous job of bringing the lessons to life.”

“I really loved the art class,” fourth-grader Sasha Cander said. “We created our own characters based on what we learned about children’s illustrators, and about how words can inspire art.”

While third- through fifth-graders learned about children’s book characters, grades K – 2 learned about French post-impressionist Henri Matisse.

Youngsters learned about his life and revolutionary style and were inspired to create their own works using some of his techniques, including positive and negative space, organic and geometric shapes, and complimentary and contrasting colors.

Later this year, students will create prints in the style of Andy Warhol, self-portraits a la Frida Kahlo, copper repoussé tiles, and their own version of a Tiffany stained-glass window.