The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 9, 2007


Library celebrates student art works

The Gleason Public Library currently features 200 works of art created by nearly as many artists from the Carlisle Public School in the Winter Art Celebration Exhibit. Although students have shown their work in smaller shows at the library, this is the first time the school has had the display spaces of the entire library available in a major show. The displays, grouped by grades, are the best pieces the students created this fall.

"One of our goals as a school district is community outreach," says Courtney Graham-Hadley, in her second year as the middle school art teacher and her tenth year at the school. "We are always looking for ways to promote the arts." Although Graham-Hadley would like to have seen the school launch a large-scale show earlier, she admits to being a bit daunted by the library's two-year lead time in booking shows. Her colleague, Rachel Dayson Levy, was "instrumental" in meeting with the library officials to make this show happen.

Levy, the elementary school art teacher in her second year at the Carlisle School, would like the show to become an annual event. "Next year I'd like to showcase students who didn't have an opportunity to have their work exhibited outside the school walls," she says. "I think that's very important."

Graham-Hadley and Dayson Levy
Art teachers Courtney Graham-Hadley and Rachel Dayson Levy post before the student self-portrait project.

Last Saturday, a reception honored the artists. Small instrumental and vocal groups from the school provided entertainment at the two-hour event. The exhibit will run through the end of March. It's an opportunity for people to see student art. Graham-Hadley was pleased to observe a group of 60 from the Council on Aging going through the show the previous week.

Sampling of the curriculum

The pieces selected for display by the art department represent only the first half of the school year; however, as every year builds on work from previous years, the art show offers a good representation of the entire curriculum. The students meet only once a week for art class and a specific project can often span an entire month. Levy and Graham-Hadley often feature the study of work by an established artist or a specific world culture and its work. The students learn about common stylistic elements and apply established techniques to their own creative designs.

"I tried to get a variety of mediums and a variety of themes abstract and realistic," says Levy about the work that she selected. She aims to make art as interdisciplinary with other coursework as possible, and cited a mitten project completed with the kindergarten as an example. The kindergarten pieces dealt with basic lines and color.

The first-grade work focuses on complex lines, and the projects on display include a leaf project and abstract art inspired by artist, Wassily Kandinsky The second-grade pieces are based on the work of John Audubon and Vincent Van Gogh. The third-grade students conducted more advanced leaf observation, including movement and depicting warm and cool color gradations, and foreground and background perspectives.

Folk art weathervanes

"We took to a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in the fall," says Levy about the fourth grade. "We focused on the folk art section there." As a result every student created a folk-art weathervane and every student has one on display at the library.

"The students made their very own designs," she continues. "It's so cool — no two weathervanes in this library are exactly alike!" The students created their shapes on cardboard paper, cut them out, painted them on both sides, and sanded them to give a weathering effect before assembling the components.

The fifth-graders created Tibetan sand-paintings with chalk pastels and a symmetric design. "They are just beautiful, star-burst designs," says Levy.

The work of three projects from the sixth grade is on view. The first involved the creation of 12-step color wheels, involving stencils. The second followed a study of Gustav Klimt, and included gold-scratch board pieces, while the third involved cutting a magazine photo in half and matching color values to complete the picture.

Most of the seventh-grade works on display came from a major self-portrait project based on the work of Chuck Close. Graham-Hadley took a photograph of each student and then showed them how to apply a grid-art technique to enlarge the picture.

Eighth-grade students created 2 x 2-inch patterns with repeating radial designs based on a study of Islamic tile prints. The students applied chalk and oil pastels to the finished designs.

The Carlisle Public School art program builds on the basics and topics introduced in previous years. Levy teaches all the elementary classes (and one middle school grade six class) while Graham-Hadley teaches grades six, seven and eight (and one elementary grade five class). The teachers work together on school projects such as the fall's small exhibit at the Gleason Library of last year's works, this winter's large exhibit and the fine arts festival at the school in the spring.

Levy noted that for her, the most time-consuming part of the show was mounting the pieces for display. Perhaps mounting artwork will become a component of next year's curriculum.

Students win awards

Several of the pieces created by Carlisle Public School students are on display elsewhere. The Boston Globe Scholastic Art awards contest recently awarded a Gold Key to eighth-grader Steven Saul, a Silver Key to eighth-grader Julia Makivic, and an Honorable Mention to seventh-grader Caroline Guild. Saul's piece consisted of a mixed-media self-portrait; Makivic drew a landscape, and Guild created a cut-out collage. Levy and Graham-Hadley chose the Carlisle submissions based on skill, originality, and commitment as indicated by membership in Art Club.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito