A partnership in art, kids at the Woodmere

It only took one child’s yell to break the serene mood outside the Woodmere Art Museum.

As the yellow school bus pulled in from Germantown Avenue for one of the last events of the school year, about 30 third- and fourth-graders from Anna L. Lingelbach School were excited to get back to their old haunt. Each student had been to the Woodmere at least twice last spring as part of a relationship stretching back years between the Chestnut Hill museum and the Germantown public school.

Woodmere works with about 37 schools yearly through this program, said Pamela Birmingham, the curator of education.

The third-grade students were there to study the art and see what they would be doing the following school year for their art projects. The fourth-graders were also there to see the third-grade students artwork that was displayed on the museum walls. Third graders worked on The Way I See It, an arts and literacy program that lasts three weeks and has the students write poems and create artwork.

For a program called ArtTrak, in previous visits, the fourth-graders took a tour that taught about  how to examine artwork through concepts of line, shape, color, space and texture. They also picked their favorite artwork and learned about it.

Students later worked with the museum educators to compose presentations, which were also given at the museum.

Birmingham said her goals with the art programs are to presents the museum as a welcoming place, while encouraging students to use their critical thinking skills.

During the presentations, the students are asked to use certain vocabulary words, such as balance, still life and light, to describe the artwork. They are also given the option to read a poem or story inspired by the piece.

Brian Hines kicked off the presentation for one group.

He chose a landscape painting and wrote a poem where he imagined a bear hiding among the trees. Brian was also asked questions by docent Barbara Suss, who led the group and explained things, such as impressionism.

“It’s not totally realistic,” she said of the painting. “It’s like a quick impression.”

Kayla Lee-Shockley picked an untitled abstract painting by Doris Staffel. She was drawn to the work because of the colors, and it made her feel happy. She asked the other students what shapes were in the drawing and whether or not it reminded them of another place.

Not everyone had the same connection with the artwork they chose. Lance Myers, who picked Violet Oakley’s “Lady With a Fan,” said he liked the Japanese influence and the dragon on the lady’s sleeve, but he wouldn’t want the painting for himself.

One of the few who chose to tell a story about the paintings was Tamir Jones. He chose a landscape that depicted spring and imagined being inside the painting.

“If I was by myself, I would jump off the waterfall and skip some rocks,” he said. “I’d look for animals.”

The tour ended where the students’ artwork was displayed. The two groups gathered as the third-graders searched the walls for their work. Kynae Hill’s poem was displayed next to her art. She wrote about hearing the whoosh of the water as it rained.

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