Elementary school’s students get to show off their favorite work of art

In mid-May, kindergarten through 4th-grade students at Wells Elementary School contributed to an art exhibit named, “The WES Hallway Art Show”. The display consisted primarily of pieces of “open studio” art or student-inspired and created artwork in the school’s Art Studio. The exhibit featured hundreds of images beginning in the lobby near the school’s office and continuing up and down both wings of an adjacent first-floor hallway.

“This is an artist-driven show,” noted WES Art teacher, Jenna Larochelle-Parry, in an e-mail. “I wanted to celebrate every artist (because) we did not have a traditional art show again this year. The artists had complete ownership over every aspect of this art show (including) envisioning their own art ideas…” Larochelle-Parry teaches art to all of the school’s 546 students.

Also in the exhibit were examples of teacher-directed art including printmaking, a kindness quilt, a collage, kindergarten pinch pots, cave drawings, art created for the school’s annual June Colors Day, and miniature villages created by first-graders inspired by the yearly first-grade performance of Tikki Tikki Tembo, a fable that is a part of Music teacher Karen Taylor’s curriculum.

A unique feature of the exhibit was a provision for feedback. In one hallway was a basket placed where students, teachers, and other staff could deposit fan letters to an artist whose work they liked.

Kyle Burnell is WES’s principal. "One of my favorite things about this school year was seeing the level of excitement in students around the hallway art exhibit,” noted Burnell. “The kids were incredibly proud to display their art for everyone to see. Mrs. Parry made this exhibit even more impactful by having students mat, title, and hang their own work. She did a wonderful job with every aspect of this exhibit, but I was particularly impressed by how she was able to maximize student engagement. Our students were so proud of the pieces they had created and that created such a positive atmosphere in the school!"

In commenting about a primary component of art instruction at WES, Larochelle-Parry explained, “Our K-4 art education curriculum embraces the practice of Teaching for Artistic Behavior, often referred to as TAB. The TAB philosophy recognizes the child as an artist, encouraging authentic art-making and ownership over their artistic process.”

Earlier this spring, several of Larochelle-Parry’s students had their artwork displayed at the Barn Gallery’s annual Student Exhibit in Ogunquit. In March one of her students, fourth-grader Robby Richmond had his artwork displayed at the Portland Museum of Art during Youth Art Month. The title of his piece was "A Big Boy Locomotive".

“Orange Tiger” by Addie

Kindergarten student Ricky, standing near his artwork (at right) at the beginning of the “The WES Hallway Art Show”.

“Tzger” by Charlotte

“Happy at Dawn” by Quinn

In the photo are CORE teachers standing in an area of The WES Hallway Art Show in May. From the left is Music teacher Karen Taylor, Physical Education teacher Kathy Calo, Art teacher, Jenna Larochelle-Parry and Librarian Kathy Hodge.