“Z” ~ Z-End of the Year Art Exhibit
It is always so exciting to see a yearlong, theme-based curriculum come together! And what better way to come together than through an end-of-the-year student art exhibit. I make sure I do a student art exhibit each year, with each one taking on a different feel based on the theme of the yearlong curriculum.
I was thrilled with the way in which our Alpha Art exhibit turned out! Each of the 26 installations was based on a letter of the alphabet, making the exhibit easy for the kids to take their parents and their teachers through. I feel like student exhibits are always successful when my students can become the docents, and truly understand and are able to explain the art they created as they walk the community through the show!
My art club members created fun invitations and a PowerPoint slideshow to share with our PTA, as the opening reception of the exhibit was on a PTA meeting night. The mayor, our legislators, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, teachers and the local newspaper all came out for this exciting night to literally “see” the learning that took place throughout the school year! From A–Z, the art was incredible, the students were excited and the community was enthralled with the talents and “art smarts” of all of our students, K–5.
We all know that art documents our world, and the exciting thing about the Alpha Art curriculum is that our students are learning about art history, art aesthetics, art production and the art of critiquing. Through this fun and educational year of learning about art via the use of the alphabet, students learned about what it is to be thinking and exhibiting artists—and that is what the arts should be all about!
ART EXHIBIT MUST-KNOWS When hanging thousands of pieces of student artwork, it is imperative to be organized and think about the installations ahead of time. A beautiful thing about theme-based curricula is the organization of the end-of-the-year exhibit is immediately planned out, based on the theme used for the school year. Making labels, addressing the standards and showcasing the art in an aesthetically pleasing way are all important components to the overall event.
Getting the art to stick is one of the trickiest parts of an exhibit of this magnitude. I have found that by using Shurtape® carton-sealing tape, my students’ art stays up longer. I often put a dot or two of hot glue on the tape to ensure that it remains up, and for further reinforcement.
I have found that “art parents” are a wonderful addition to any visual-art program. Parents love to come to the school and help, and a great way to keep them busy and useful is to have them go around the art installations adding more tape or dots of glue.
After talking with many art educators about the logistics of hosting student art exhibits with this much student art, a continuing theme seems to be the daunting task of getting all of the art down.
I actually use this time to continue teaching by taking my students through the exhibit during the last week of the official show and critiquing the art one more time. Students walk through each of the installations during their last art class and take their art down, while discussing a few successful pieces, colors, elements, art history, etc.
When the art is down and the tape has been taken off, they then put this art into their portfolios and out the door it goes.
When the portfolios go home, parents are thrilled to see the art, have the assessment sheet and see the pride their kids have for their artistic successes throughout the school year!
The student art exhibit at “Z-end” of the year is the final hooray in the “Alpha Art … The ABCs of ART” curriculum—really, it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3, or perhaps A, B, C! I look forward to hearing about your successes with this curriculum!
Debi West, Ed.S., NBCT, is the Lead Art Educator at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga., and is a Contributing Editor for Arts & Activities.