Visits, observations, and conversation have begun in schools and art spaces in Maine. Sweet Tree Arts in Hope, a center for community art, which opened in February 2013, was my first stop. Early childhood students through high schoolers enroll in classes to explore materials and develop skills at the newly constructed studio. The building itself is a work of art. Pine beams held in place with wooden pegs demonstrate the art of fine carpentry, making it clear to all that the standards at Sweet Tree Arts are high.
I met with the founder, Lindsay Pinchbeck, a progressive educator and young mother with a vision focused on the future. She reflected on her own school experiences, talking with me about the role Art played in her learning as well as the kinds of thinking Art inspires in all areas of the curriculum. My second visit to Sweet Tree Arts was to see children’s work in an exhibition celebrating the end of the first 6-week term. Families saw first-hand what happens when kids engage in Art beyond the school day.
What we are doing at ART works: Examining the specific ways in which Art builds students’ capacities for innovative thinking. You can contribute by sending examples of student artwork, your theories, comments, ideas, and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will collect them and publish them on our blog.
On April 11 I spent the morning at Waynflete School, which educates children from Early Childhood through Twelfth Grade in Portland. On view was an extraordinary display of artwork from every student in the school. Sixth Graders in Waynflete’s Middle School study ancient civilizations. Supporting an integrated curriculum, teachers collaborate on projects through which students express their understanding of culture and history while simultaneously pushing their thinking through modern interpretations.
At the end of their thematic study, they make their own museum and spend an overnight on campus experiencing the museum they created.
Nancy Harris Frohlich