Virtual art class recreates masterpieces

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In a curious school year, teachers and students are teaming up to make the most of the situation, and one virtual art class is using their time to remake masterpieces.

Peeples Elementary enrichment teacher Teri McGraw has been leading a virtual class of students from several county schools through a unit called “Through Artists’ Eyes,” and it led into an assignment where students were asked to recreate famous works of art with amazing results.

Risha chose “Glow of Hope” by Sawlaram Haldankar.

Throughout the unit, students have been learning about landmark artists, influential periods of art history, and how art relates to and reflects history. Students were urged to find an artist they had never studied before, identify a piece of art they liked, and recreate it.

“Our overarching theme in 4th grade Enrichment is perspective, and I teach a unit called ‘Through Artists’ Eyes’ as a vehicle to help students learn more deeply about perspective. Students learn how people throughout history have used art as a means of communication,” said McGraw. “They learn that art is a reflection of what people value, and our values impact the art we create.

“For this particular assignment, I wanted children to find an artist who we have not yet studied. Since I began the year introducing cave paintings and we end the year with modern art, there are many artists that we simply do not have time to research. I was hoping that the children would find an artist who spoke to them, so they could share their love of the artist with us.”

Kyle recreated “Marilyn Diptych” by Andy Warhol

Using the pandemic as inspiration, McGraw shared recreations from a number of social media sources for inspiration. The recreations were created with a variety of materials and methods, and some students even did other recreations just for fun.

“I try to show different aspects of the pandemic, so students can reevaluate their perspective of this unique time of their lives.”

The results were more breathtaking than McGraw could have imagined.

“When the students started sending in their work, I was overwhelmed. I wanted to share their work with a larger audience than just my class. I wanted others to see their creativity in action,” she said. “As the assignments began coming in, I was in awe. I loved seeing how the children took this assignment and ran with it. They had very limited directions. They were as follows: ‘Recreate a famous artwork of your choosing with anything you have at home! You will learn a little about the artist to teach your class and then share your recreation.’”

Jade chose a Frida Kahlo self-portrait

The students loved the project, too, telling McGraw in that the assignment allowed them to spread their imagination, learn about different types of art, and explore different mediums for creating.

While the pandemic has presented many challenges, it has also brought positives. A need for resourcefulness has lead to creativity in teaching and learning art virtually.

“I think the benefit of teaching art virtually has been the ability to differentiate so easily. Each student has an art kit that was provided through a grant by Bright Ideas, so they have all the materials they need, and they can create their art their own way,” said McGraw. “Since they are not at school, they have more time to perfect their art. They really have space and time to be more creative.”

Kylar recreated “Three Friends” by William H. Johnson