Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Welcome Back!

I hope the new school year is off to a great start for everyone. Classes have begun smoothly in the art room. As I have been meeting with all the classes for the first time this year, it has been interesting to hear of the student's summer art adventures. I have been impressed and pleased with the number of students who have traveled the globe this summer and included a trip to the art museums in the cities and countries in which they were visiting. Students were also eager to share the stories of the artworks they created on their own and at local art camps. In addition to catching up with students on their first art class of the year, students in grades 1-5 have been creating their art folders for the year, in which they will store all the artwork created this year. These folders will go home in June. In their second class, students in grades 2-4 will be creating their own sketchbooks for use during observational drawing and painting activities throughout the year. Last week, I have also met with Kindergarten students for the first time, beginning with the start of a series of drawing activities to ease them into the art class curriculum while getting to know this new group of youngsters.

Please be sure to check back soon as new posts and projects will be posted here in the near future. Thanks for your ongoing support!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Announcing the Arlington Friends of the Visual Art!

The Arlington Public Schools K-12 Visual Arts Department would like to announce the formation of the Arlington Friends of the Visual Art. The mission of the Friends is outlined below. If you are interested in joining or if you are interested in helping the K-12 art department in some of the ways outlined below, please contact Interim Director of Visual Art, David Ardito at ydpaa@yahoo.com or by contacting me at dchisholm@arlington.k12.ma.us

Mission of the Arlington Friends of the Visual Art

The Arlington Friends of the Visual Art supports the K-12 Visual Art Department in Arlington's nine public schools by advocating for art education, fundraising, providing
publicity and by helping with events such as student and staff art exhibits.

The Arlington Friends of the Visual Art promotes the belief that art education is essential to the full intellectual and emotional development of all children.

Arlington Friends of the Visual Art will:

  • Increase public awareness of the Art program

  • Support K-12 Art teachers

  • Raise funds for professional development for teachers, art events, field trips, scholarships and equipment

Funds raised by the Friends of the Visual Art will not supplant school budget funds and will provide special opportunities for visiting artists, professional development for teachers, arts events, special field trips, scholarships and equipment that would otherwise be impossible.

Members can opt to attend monthly Friends of the Visual Art meetings, to help with specific projects and/or to become officers who will set meeting agendas and who will be the liaisons between FOVA members and the K-12 art teaching staff and the K-12 Director of Visual Arts.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why Art Education?

Throughout my years of teaching, I have encountered several different philosophies about what the role of art education should be within our schools, both by administrators and parents. In the last fifteen years, huge strides have been made to reform our society’s ideas about why art education is so important to everyone’s education. We know that art education in schools improves test scores. We know art education enhances critical thinking and problem solving. We know art education fosters a well-rounded student. But there is more.

My philosophy mirrors that of my training at the Rhode Island School of Design art education department and the National Association of Art Education, which is that in addition to providing the above-mentioned qualities, art education must be taught in a way that will address those issues AND provide a vehicle for students to learn about art, talk about art, make informed opinions and decisions about art as they get older and have the confidence in their own abilities to do so.

The mere presence of art class in schools will NOT increase test scores. Nor will it make your child more creative or better at solving complex problems. The content must be presented by a trained professional in a manner which is stimulating and challenging, which has a goal and meaningful purpose, and which will teach students skills they can and may apply later in various ways.

I want my students to understand that art is something they CAN do. I want them to have the confidence and motivation to view works of art and design and make informed decisions about it without intellectual intimidation or ignorance. I want my students to understand that art is not limited to a talented few, nor does it come easily to anyone, but rather it is part of the human experience, something to be learned, cultivated and practiced.

Recently, the National Association of Art Education (NAEA) published an advocacy pamphlet for parents to help communicate the goals and services of arts education in schools. One of their key statements was as follows:


Art Means Work.

Beyond the qualities of creativity, self-expression, and communication, art is a type of work. This is what art has been from the beginning. This is what art is from childhood to old age. Through art, our students learn the meaning of joy of work—work done to the best of one’s ability, for it’s own sake, for the satisfaction of a job well done. There is a desperate need in out society for a revival of the idea of good work: work for personal fulfillment; work for social recognition; work for economic development. Work is one of the noblest expressions of the human spirit, and art is the visible evidence of work carried to the highest possible level. Today we hear much about productivity and workmanship. Both of these ideals are strengthened each time we commit ourselves to the endeavor of art. We are dedicated to the idea that art is the best way for every young person to learn the value of work.


I completely agree with this statement, both as an artist and as an art educator. I try to help my students realize that creating artwork is a challenging process for artists, myself included. As students grow older, their confidence often begins to diminish and uninformed, negatively biased opinions about art and their own abilities, begin to take hold unless a system has been previously put in place that will help them rise above such misconceptions. Accompanying these feelings is also often a notion that art should be simple, easy, and solely recreational. This attitude only serves to eventually diminish the importance of art and art education in the adult minds of our society, who then try to deem it as irrelevant. One of my prime objectives, and one shared by millions of art educators nation-wide, is to eliminate this attitude towards the purpose and function of art education in our schools. To be sure, art education serves a unique role in school, but it must not be confused with recreation, therapy or “busywork”.