If you happened to wander into the new Allen Hall at Mansfield University last Saturday, you might have thought you had been transported to New York City into the Museum of Modern Art. Allen Hall was filled with children, parents and college students admiring the creative art that was on display. And what a diverse display, from colorful rain sticks to three dimensional duct tape! It was the result of the Saturday morning art program instructed by art education majors.
The Saturday morning art program for school age children was started in the 1970’s. Currently, it is facilitated by Mansfield University instructor Andrew Wales, through his Elementary Art Methods class.
The methods part of the class is held on Tuesday evenings and includes undergraduate students as well as graduate students. On Saturday mornings, the college students apply the methods by teaching art classes to the children. Everyone benefits. The Tuesday/Saturday connection allows the art students to put the methods learned into practice ten times prior to their actual student teaching experience. “I think it’s a real strength of our art education program that they get that opportunity to teach that much before student teaching. Not every college art education program offers that,” said Wales.
Sara Hamburger, Kristine Peterson, and Lindsay Spaziani are the three graduate art students responsible for setting up the art show last Saturday. In addition to teaching their own Saturday morning art classes and doing the assignments for the Tuesday night methods classes, they have leadership responsibilities such as teaching mini lessons to their fellow students and organizing everything for the art show. The last class of the semester on Saturday, December 4 is going to be a multicultural art day. Each classroom will be set up as a different culture and students will rotate around making art projects from each culture. The three graduate students are working on the organization of that special day.
Hamburger, from East Troy, has learned more about art from teaching her students. “It keeps you younger when you learn from your students,” she said. “Art was always a channel for me. It helped me communicate my feelings better at a younger age.”
Of Wales as their instructor, Hamburger says he does a great job bringing real world art to his students through his teaching. Wales also agrees that he learns much from his students. “I’ve been impressed with every one of them. They work very hard at developing creative projects and display them in a creative way.” His students often come to him with a new idea for a lesson and his response is “Let’s try it!” One of these new ideas was using duct tape in a lesson created by Lacey Stein. Stein displayed her objective, “Transforming 2-D objects, such as duct tape, into 3-D objects will help students enhance their creativity, critical thinking skills and problem solving skills.”
Wales also emphasizes an art history connection for his students. One of the Saturday morning classes being taught by Rachael Whiting was in Seurat’s painting style called “pointillism” which uses dots to fill in color. “It makes it look like your painting is moving by vibration,” Whiting pointed out.
Nick Simons, from Millerton enjoyed taking the art classes on Saturdays. One of his projects that he made in Hamburger’s class, an art journal cover with marbleized paper on the inside, is something useful that he will probably use for drawing or writing. Simons said, “I liked learning about all the styles of art.” Making comics was his favorite and he had some of those on display as well.
Wesley Carleton, from Tioga, made a rain stick from a cardboard tube, painted and covered with paper foil, construction paper and feathers. According to Carleton, rain sticks are used “to make it rain.” And it worked! The week after he made it, we had rain all week!
Hamburger, who will be certified to teach levels Kindergarten through twelfth grade, said she enjoyed teaching all of the age groups. After her student teaching next semester, she would like to stay in this area. She feels “there are a lot of resources in Bradford and the surrounding counties.” She especially would like to get into art and nature and can even see herself starting her own art school some day. Her favorite art media are sculpture and oil painting. In Hamburger’s eyes, the best part of the Saturday morning art program is “being able to teach something that I love.”