In my various travels, I’ve been able to attend some amazing art galleries and museums. I’ve seen the Louvre, the d’Orsée, the Rodin Museum, the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Smithsonian, just to name a few. These museums and galleries contain artwork that is technically amazing, inspiring, and connects to the human soul through drops of paint or clay.
On July 19th, I attended another art gallery. The art displayed there will never grace the walls of the Louvre or the Smithsonian; probably no more than 150 people ever saw it. And if it was graded, it might not even receive an “A”. Yet, it was one of the best art galleries I’ve ever been to.
This summer, special education teacher candidates (including myself) have been teaching at elementary school summer programs for students with disabilities in the neighboring districts. The Young Artist Gallery Stroll displayed the artwork these students did in class.
My class’ artwork
On a technical level, did their art compare to Monet, Rodin, or Bernini? No. Does that matter? Not really.
So what does matter then?
As I walked around the room, looking at the various artwork, I saw their personalities come out in their artwork. Art helped them express something about themselves; then, they got to share it with others. That’s one important part.
Several of my students and their families were able to come. My students were bursting with pride as they walked around the room. People kept telling them what a good job they did. So, they got recognized for a job well done. That’s another important part.
It made me realize some important things about art in the classroom.
1. Art does not have to be perfect to be enjoyed.
- Not a single project there was perfect, but it was one of the most enjoyable experiences with art I’ve ever had.
2. Focus on art as a form of expressing yourself.
- Giving some choices for the project lets students show their creativity.
3. Give recognition for a job well done.
- Make sure that you have some way of telling your students what a great job they did. It not only makes them feel good in that moment, it might also inspire them to keep creating throughout their lives.