Fifth-graders get lesson in abstract art

May 16, 2018

 

     On Wednesday, Crabbe Elementary School fifth-graders learned art doesn’t have to be about recognizable pictures and images. All you need is some color and imagination.
For the past three years, Ashland Community and Technical College has visited students at Crabbe Elementary on a monthly basis to teach them about famous artists and their particular forms of expression.
     Wendy Fosterwelsh, ACTC art professor, designed the program to enhance what the students were learning in their art class at school.
     “My main goal when I designed the program was to get more art into the lives of young students,” she said. “Although Crabbe has a great art teacher, she also only sees them once a week. So I thought I would help a little by adding an artist of the month to the fifth grade classrooms.”
     This year, for the first time, ACTC hosted an end-of-year smART Blast and Bash to learn about five abstract artists. The outdoor activity led students through five stations, one dedicated to each abstract artist, where they learned about the styles and techniques of Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Alma Thomas and Josef Albers. Then, students made their own art pieces in those styles.
     Fosterwelsh led the station on Albers, whose most famous works made up the series “Homage to the Square,” in which he painted solid colored squares nested within one another. The students used colored squared construction paper to create their own works.
     ACTC librarian Bettie George Frye lead a station about Kandinsky, reading “The Noisy Paint Box.”
Crabbe Elementary teachers led stations on Alma Thomas, who painted bright colors in irregular mosaic patterns, and Helen Frankenthaler, who used a soak-stain technique to create color-field paintings. Students recreated their own works in these styles as well.
     At the Jackson Pollock station, led by ACTC education professor Warren Howard, the students worked on one large collaborative piece. Howard rolled kickballs in pans of paint and let the students push them around a giant canvas on the ground. Each group of students worked with a different color to add layers that mimicked Pollock’s drip style.
     “We had never done a big end-of-the-year thing before, and I think it worked out pretty well,” Fosterwelsh said. “We gave out T-shirts to all the students and a gift bag with art supplies.”