Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
Walk with the Arts: Fourth Grade Craft Outreach Program
Fourth grade is a spectacular frame of mind. The energy, bravery, and creativity of the children I talked to and demonstrated for never faltered, despite the pouring rain! I spotted similarities in each group and compared them with my own fourth grade experience: I saw the class clown (which was me!), the super-smart-shy-girl, and even that restless trouble maker. And amazingly, every student that I presented to was completely engaged. They watched, wondered, and “oohed” and “awed” as the walls of the vessel grew and bloomed. At an age of distractions, short attention spans, and long winded complaints, I was stunned at the positivity and curiosity of each student. I would finish my brief description of what I was doing, and open it up to questions – immediately, five hands would fly into the air: “What’s the sponge for?” “How do you make it go?” “Is it fun?” “Where does that clay come from” “What’s the biggest cup you’ve ever made!?”
I grew as a potter just by answering these simple questions, and by proudly sharing my experiences. The delicate and magical transformation of dirt and water into elegant art is breathtaking. In that moment where the donut shaped ring of clay was pushed straight up into a shape that suddenly looked like the familiar cup that we’ve used every day of our lives, every student’s eyes (including myself) got a little wider. Pottery is cool. Art is awesome. It’s these experiences where we see, ask, and walk away feeling smarter and happier that give us insight into what this world is around us, and what part we want to play in it.
One of the questions that Martha would ask the students as they made their miniature pinch pots was: “Why is art so important; what’s so different about a mug made by a potter and a mug you buy at Walmart?” Art is important because it has passion, effort, individuality – it becomes a medium for expression and emotion. The mug you buy from a potter has personality and care inside – it has spirit. Students saw this and more. They respect what we do. When they can see that there’s a person behind that beautiful, one-of-a-kind piece of pottery, and not a mindless machine, it becomes easy to appreciate every work of art around us, and allow that art to strengthen our human experience. It’s events like these that invest in Berea’s future in Art. And it’s events like these that let students investigate expression, question their future, and shape who they want to be.