District News

Artwork on display at the Coman Hill Elementary School art show.


Picasso and Van Gogh inspired self-portraits. Papier-mache masks based on the classical elements of nature. A mural of paper animals. These were just some of the colorful and creative projects on display at the Coman Hill and Wampus art shows in March.

At Wampus Elementary School, the art show had a gallery feel, with piano concertos playing in the background, a mix of high and low displays so visitors could see more of the art at once and seating cubes where people could reflect on the students’ artwork.

“The whole show is an exhibition of every child’s art project, either finished or not finished, that shows the potential and the talents of all of our children,” said Elizabeth Castrataro-Capua, who teaches art at Wampus along with Katie Constantine.

The third graders drew self-portraits that had a focus on cubism and were inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso. After two portrait lessons, the students were each given a mirror and began drawing their likeness. They used a crayon resist technique with oil pastels and sponge-painted with watercolors.

The fourth graders constructed papier-mache masks that were based on the classical elements, fire, water, air and earth. Students studied masks from different time periods and cultures, exploring the cultural specificity of the masks, while simultaneously discovering the underlying universal theme of transformation, Ms. Constantine explained.

The students had to reference one of the elements in their mask, and afterward, they wrote myths and creative stories that explained the aspect of nature that their mask embodied.

“I am always so intrigued by the way in which the students translate this project into their own unique works of art,” Ms. Constantine said. “Their interpretations of the classical elements are so varied, vibrant, creative, and at times unexpected.”

The fifth graders in Ms. Constantine’s classes studied the Earthworks movement from the late 1960s that focused on creating art in nature, beyond the confines of traditional gallery and museum spaces. Then, the students went outside and created their own earthworks from sticks, acorns, rocks and leaves. They later created charcoal drawings of these natural materials.

Ms. Castrataro-Capua’s fifth graders worked on a line and landscape project inspired by artists Emily Carr and Vincent Van Gogh. Focusing on line pattern and design, the students used pastels to draw landscapes based on photographs they found online.

At Coman Hill, the students created various projects with art teacher Judy DeJarlar that were displayed at the art show. The students learned about the art elements, line, shape, pattern, Wampus, Coman Hill Art Shows Feature a Mix of Colorful and Creative Artwork texture, color, along with space and form.

“A lot of the work is broadening their understanding of these concepts, and learning how to use their materials, practice their skills and learning about the artists,” Ms. DeJarlar said.

“I am impressed by the wonderful job the students do,” she added. “They are always enthusiastic and committed to producing something of quality, and they have a lot of perseverance.”

The kindergartners learned about connecting shapes to make something new and practiced their cutting skills to create a paper animal. All of their hard work was displayed together on a mural.

“They learned that with combinations of shapes, you can make almost anything you can think of,” Ms. DeJarlar said.

The first grade students began their work with self-portraits by looking at the art of Van Gogh. They learned that a self portrait is a picture you make of yourself, with the face being the biggest and most important part. The students identified the parts of the face that are the same for everybody and they used mirrors to identify all the ways their face is different from the faces of their classmates.

“Following this discussion, the first graders started their self-portraits focusing on combining shapes to make the face,” Ms. DeJarlar said. “Then crayons and oil crayons were used to color the skin, eyes, hair and the remainder of the picture.”

The first graders also mixed paint in the primary colors of red, blue and yellow, along with white, to make new colors they used to paint Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired flowers.

Second graders studied the works of Native American artists and made pinch and coil clay pots. They pinched the bottom of the pot and added coils, or ropes of clay around the pot and added color through glazing.

They also studied pop artist Jim Dine and made three-dimensional, pop-art heart squares that were displayed together in the style of a quilt.

“Hearts are an image that almost all children can relate to, they all make them,” Ms. DeJarlar said. “The second graders were excited to learn how to make a 3D heart.”