Here is a great article from guest blogger Lisa Pemerton on art education. Sharing ideas like this is important because it relates to interdisciplinary common core subject matter. This project is showing what is possible and how art can be made to have a lasting impression.
LISA PEMBERTON | Staff writer • The Olympian—Published September 04, 2012 Creative Commons License 4.0 Attribution
Mariah Art students installed a mural about the life cycle of a salmon last week at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge’s Environmental Education Center.
“I’m really proud of it,” said 12-year-old Ellison Roycroft, a seventh-grader at Griffin School. “The colors are really vibrant.”
About 25 students worked on the project that involved 180 4-inch-by-4-inch hand-painted ceramic tiles, said Diane Gaile, the school’s owner and director.
“The children drew individual pictures and the teachers put together the composition,” she said. “It’s all original. They painted all of the animals that are on it.”
Mariah Art is a licensed child care center on Olympia’s west side. In addition to offering pre-kindergarten and after-school elementary art classes, the center operates day camps when school is not in session.
Gaile, 62, has a bachelor’s degree in education and is state-certified in art education for grades kindergarten through high school. She opened the school about 25 years ago, at a time when public school teaching jobs were scarce.
“A girlfriend of mine talked me into starting art classes in my garage,” she said with a chuckle.
Mariah Art operated out of a studio in downtown Olympia for several years before moving to its current location across from Garfield Elementary School. It offers programs in visual arts such as drawing and ceramics, as well as performing arts such as theater and music.
For many years, Mariah Art students have visited the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge for field trips to view, sketch and learn about birds, plants and animals in the region, Gaile said.
About five years ago, at the suggestion of a former Mariah Art student who was working at the refuge as an AmeriCorps member, Gaile and her students produced a mural of handmade tiles, as a gift for the refuge.
The children’s art work was used as a prominent element in the refuge’s new education building.
“The architect said he’d use the mural,” Gaile said. “We didn’t know it would be on the front entrance.”
Since then, the school has created four other large murals for the refuge. And they’re planning to create at least two more next year, Gaile said.
The murals serve as a hands-on lesson about art, nature, collaboration and Northwest heritage. But they’re also a chance for the kids to create something that will last for generations, Gaile said.
“I said, ‘You’ll be taking your kids to see this,’” she said.