Oak Meadow Elementary held its third annual Art Walk in its multipurpose room last Thursday evening. The fundraiser for the school’s popular “Meet the Masters” art program was also an opportunity for parents and students to browse the hundreds of pieces of student artwork on display.
Led entirely by approximately 50 parent volunteers known as art docents, the whole school concentrates on seven famous artists per year as part of their adopted “Meet the Masters” curriculum, with the February event a showcase of what’s learned. Artists that inspired this year’s projects included Van Gogh, Georgia O’Keefe, Picasso and Henri Matisse. Studying seven different renowned artists each year, for five years, students “meet” 35 masters before leaving elementary school.
The artists’ lives and works are explored in-depth, and then students apply what they’ve learned to create their own art.
“Our students don’t just do art, they are immersed in Art History,” said parent docent Sel Richard.
This year’s fifth graders got to revisit painter Frida Kahlo; they’d first learned about her back in kindergarten, the first year of a five-year cycle for them. “Kindergartners are taught basic principles like how to look at a painting,” Richard said. “We ask them things like, ‘What colors make this a happy picture?’” Their culminating project after studying Kahlo was to draw an oil and pastel picture of a bird.”
Fifth grade, in comparison, is like a college course. “We talked about symbolism in Kahlo’s work — leaves mean life, for instance — and Kahlo’s social significance, how she was one of the first women to be recognized as an artist in Mexico,” Richard explained. “They also drew a bird, but with much more detail, including how to make fore and backgrounds, shading, etc.”
Whatever the age of student, docent Connie Ferriman said kids light up when they know it’s a “Meet the Masters” day at school. “When the kids see us come into their classrooms with our art bags they’re so excited to see us!”
The Art Walk is special for two reasons. Every child in the school is represented and, while most projects sent home are two-dimensional drawings or paintings, the chosen Art Walk piece is three-dimensional. The majority of projects were made of glazed and fired clay — houses, fish, masks and more. There were also live demonstrations around the periphery of the room like origami, pottery and other “Artists in Action” were on hand to inspire.
Principal Barbara Narez thanked the many parent volunteers who make “Meet the Masters” and the Art Walk possible, especially Denise Holmes, Katie Yonano, Sel Richard, Amy Gaal, Michelle Silva, Susan Hewitt, Tonya Hurst, Connie Ferriman and Olivia Howard.
Parent Becky Kay already looks forward to next year. With her daughter Haley by her side, she said beaming, “Every year just gets better! The docents blow us away!”