K’s and Grade 1’s at Mitchell Elementary as Biennale Artists: We are all unique, we are all connected!

dscn6207.jpgIt is tremendous fun to work with energetic and expressive kindergartens and grade ones!  Especially the ones participating in Vancouver Biennale’s Big Ideas project!  These past few weeks, I have gotten to roll up my sleeves, don my painting clothes and paint with passion in bright, primary colours (pun intended).  I even experienced creating art ‘installations’ where I helped to design where and how the artwork would be displayed.

Art is not simply art…it crosses borders and opens boxes in the mind that cross into other areas of curriculum, that help us to develop as communicators, that provide opportunities to explore who we are.

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Exploring identity, inclusiveness and community have all been themes we have been working with at Mitchell.  The process was engaging, messy and extremely satisfying!  Students thought about who they were and what they bring to their communities, read some Todd Parr books and then designed and painted their own portraits.  Afterwards, they brainstormed words that expressed who they are and pasted them around their portrait and “Ta-Da!”  Todd Parr Portrait Poetry!  Can you see any similarities and differences in these two classes?  What connects us?  What makes us unique?

In hopes that spring will soon arrive, we also used a tree as a metaphor for how we are all connected.  In this case, students used paint to draw a branch (or created one using an impression of their own arm and hand) and then used their own fingerprints to create the blossoms.  Personally, I love the idea of sharing roots and a strong trunk of values, but, still connected to those roots and that trunk, being able to express individuality, while contributing to a ‘whole, beautiful picture’.  I have seen, through art, how nurturing a sense of individuality alongside a sense of community, has made these youngsters more tolerant, expressive and collaborative…recognizing that though we come from many different cultures and places, we all belong to one big, beautiful world.

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