Making Art Meaningful

The study of art is not a frivolous one: through the process of conceptualizing and crafting, children not only develop imagination and creativity – faculties that are essentially unique to human beings – but also effectively connect and synthesize knowledge from other areas. While there is a time and place for creating beauty simply for pleasure and its own sake, art is an integral way by which children can strengthen their knowledge and deepen their learning.

Mathematics and geometry permeate art in so many ways.  Spatial understanding and patterning all play integral roles in art. In October, children used their own names as a starting point for geometric name tiles. Inspired by the calligraphic art found in the ceramic tile designs in Islamic architecture, students rotated and reflected their names to create intricate geometric designs that cleverly disguise the artists’ names in the artwork. In the process, they had to recall and apply knowledge of triangles, symmetry and rotation and reflection.

Of course, art is also an engaging and effective way to bring cultural knowledge to life. Reviewing knowledge on the parts of plants and discussing cultural traditions and customs was seamless – and so much fun – in the process of creating clay pumpkins and paper bag trees for a Halloween/harvest display.

Throughout the year in Lower Elementary, we will continue to utilize the powers of art as a key integrator of knowledge and learning. In November, we are exploring how nature inspired early humans and how nature continues to inspire us to create beautiful artwork today. Students have been busily creating embossed copper sheets depicting finely-detailed leaves or symbolic animals, as well as watercolour sketches, and ink compositions of colourful animals. We are placing emphasis on the art media we are using (such as clay), noting their use even in primitive times to create objects or images of beauty.

By connecting our study and creation of art to our other areas of knowledge, it becomes far more meaningful and valuable. Our minds and imaginations are enriched by its practice, and our lives – and spirits – are enriched by the universal beauty that art reflects.

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