FAIRFIELD — The kindergarten classroom at the Sheldon Academy of Innovative Learning became an art gallery Thursday, as the children, serving as docents, showed their guests self-portraits done in the vein of artist Frida Kahlo.
Next to their drawings was a brief written statement on who their favorite artist was, complete with two reasons saying why the student chose that artist.
The art gallery debut was the culmination of about three weeks of work that began with kindergarten teachers Mary and Peter Rosenfield introducing their nearly 60 schoolchildren to the cave paintings of Lascaux. A book, as well as viewing and touring the caves on YouTube and Google images, were employed in the lesson.
Children then wrote about what they had learned and drew their own images of cave paintings.
The artwork of Matisse followed. Instruction was augmented with reading “Henri’s Scissors,” about Matisse.
“We did an interactive read-aloud of this historical fiction account of Matisse getting cancer when he was old and switching from painting to paper cutouts,” Peter Rosenfield wrote in an email.
The children talked in pairs about what happened to Matisse that forced him to change how he did his art.
An art lesson doing paper cut-outs was followed by a vocabulary lesson on the word “imagine,” where the children talked, then wrote, about what they imagined they would make for a paper cut-out.
Van Gogh was the next artist studied. The lesson included reading the book “Van Gogh and the Sunflowers.” The children made their own paintings, working from a vase containing cut sunflowers.
The same process was repeated for Picasso and Kahlo.
School principal Kathryn Ferreira admired the work while the children, their teachers and invited guests offered a celebratory toast with sparkling cider.
She and the Rosenfields cited the role Common Core State Standards played by taking ideas and putting them into practice.
“There was lots of discussion and reading about the different artists,” Ferreira said. “They could compare and contrast before choosing their favorite artist.”
Prior to Common Core, art was put off to the side, she said.
Eli Iriarte chose Van Gogh as his favorite artist.
“He has weird shapes in his drawings,” the boy said.
His mother, Olivia Stewart, was pleased with her son’s knowledge of the artists, she said.
Eric San Filippo listed Kahlo as his favorite because she “painted a self-portrait” and “painted her pain.”
Trecy Murray held on to her daughter Nyemah Day’s hand as they walked through the gallery.
“She likes to paint,” Murray said of her daughter.
Nyemah chose Kahlo as her preferred artist because she painted a picture of her dad.
The Rosenfields did their own self-portraits, which hang on their office door.
The exhibit will hang through the end of the school year. The kindergartners will serve as docents again Friday as some of the older children as the school come to view the work.
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