Under the guidance of Art Teacher Jessica Bullers, the ICMS Art Program follows the Indiana State Academic Standards by producing art, fostering a creative response to history and culture, discussing visual literacy, and engaging students with interdisciplinary lessons.
Variety in art production techniques and media is considered in order to hold the interest of the students, reveal untapped talents, and expand the mind. Although drawing is often considered the foundation of art, and is used usually with most projects to develop visual concepts, it is not our primary focus. During the ICMS school year, art classes will learn a variety of artistic skills such as printmaking, sculpture, painting, weaving, graphic design, illustration, and pottery. Some multimedia projects involve the use of a number of these mediums -- and more. For example, 8th graders complete a school-year-long project called "Altered Book," which is a current fad in the art world. Students are each given an old library book at the beginning of the school year, and their task is to "alter" that book throughout the course of the year, telling the story of their year at school. They may paint, draw, weave, deconstruct, reconstruct, sew, add pockets, and add pop-outs and more to this book. Of course, there are some necessary guidelines for students to follow, such as developing content tabs for their books and how many pages they need to finish by the end of the school year to satisfactorily complete the project. But the key to the project is to invite students to demonstrate their evolving creativity over the course of the year. Students then decorate the book cover as the project's final touch.
Art History is woven into almost every single lesson by introducing artists and artwork that pertain to the current project. As well, every month the classroom features an "Artist of the Month" on the bulletin board. If a student figures out who the artist is by the end of the month, he/she receives a prize. When the month is over, the artist’s work and history is taught. There is also an "-ism of the Month" bulletin board that displays works of art from various artists from a specific period or style, such as Cubism, Impressionism, Superrealism, and Renaissance Art. At the end of the year, the students apply their knowledge of all the art history they’ve learned to fill in an art history timeline.
“Is this art?” “Does art need to be functional?” “Should art be about emotion?” “Can art invoke change in the world?” These are just some of the many penetrating questions that come up in the ICMS Art classroom to develop visual literacy. Visual Literacy is an umbrella term for analyzing, critiquing, interpreting, describing, and reflecting on art of various subjects, time periods, and/or cultures. Questions about art or art philosophy are an extremely important part of lessons because they allow the students to use their higher order thinking skills. Visual literacy topics are intertwined within the lessons, read about in Scholastic Art magazine and covered in class, discussed with every introduction to a new art style, and noted in writing prompts.
Integrating other subjects with art helps students to better understand art from different perspectives as well as complements their growing knowledge on topics studied in other classes. This unique learning approach is known as interdisciplinary lesson planning. In the ICMS Art classroom, one quarter might focus on producing art with mathematics in mind, such as learning about space, perspective, shapes, forms, and measurement; while another grading period might focus on language arts, social studies, or culture and diversity. An art project with a tie-in to a subject taught in Social Studies class resulted in our 8th grade art students making African clay masks. Interdisciplinary lesson planning is being heralded in education circles as the wave of the future, yet here at ICMS, it is already an essential part of our Art program.
During the year, the walls of the school are covered in art being produced by the students to promote a sense of pride and accomplishment. Some of the students at ICMS have had the opportunity to display their art in community establishments and have also been involved in conceiving ideas for a community mural. The ICMS teacher art blog displays students’ work online and provides a rationale for each lesson for members of our school community. We invite you to visit our online gallery to enjoy the creativity of our middle school students!