Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva’s art show this week was an amazing showcase of the creativity and artistic expression nurtured in its art program. Student work filled the walls and tabletops of the school gym, transforming the space into a pop-up art gallery.
RPRY’s art program, headed by teacher Debby Waldman, enables students to explore visual communication with a focus on process over product. This approach promotes risk taking and exploration. Nevertheless, the finished products on display at the show were a testament to the learning happening in the classroom. A project in which students created their own works of sugary delights in the colorful style of artist Wayne Thiebaud in various media, taught students color theory, composition, shading and an introduction to Pop-Art. A still life project introduced students to formal qualities of representing three dimensional space, such as background, middleground, foreground, horizon lines and overlapping objects to create a sense of depth.
Additionally, Waldman often integrates the art classes with the curricula: from math to social studies. Connecting art projects and art history education widens perspectives and encourages mastery learning by enabling students to see connections between concepts, subjects and prior and new knowledge. For example, cubes on display in the show that were made in the style of cubist artists taught students about both art history and geometry, using organic and geometric shapes. A Vincent van Gogh self portrait exercise doubled as a unit on self reflection, echoing a school-wide, social-emotional learning program called Second Step. A unit on playing cards wove together concepts of symmetry and effective product design. Students were introduced to various cultural expressions of art outside of the Western tradition as well. Students learned about Native American Totem Poles and tribal use of masks worldwide on the class smartboard, after which they created their own in the tradition of these heritages.
RPRY’s art classes enable innovation, creative problem solving, collaboration, perseverance and observing diverse perspectives, all of which are 21st century skills. The exhibit reflected the success of these learning objectives. Students’ pride and excitement as they displayed their works to parents and faculty was the cherry on top of a Wayne Thiebaud painting of a cupcake.