Call it a different kind of art walk.
On Wednesday, June 20th, students from PS 34 marched around their schoolyard in their annual Art Parade. As in past years, the students were required, as a final project, to create wearable art, reflecting an artist they studied throughout that year’s art cycle. Every class from grades one through five participated as parents, teachers and fellow students admired the creativity inspired by PS 34 art teacher Lisa Summa.
In a tradition that began last year, awards were handed out for best costumes. Judges Rachel Farmer and Joe Franquinha chose from the most colorful first grade Henri Matisses, the second grade’s best Vincent Van Gogh impressions, the most surreal Salvador Dalis in the third grade, fourth graders representing every Pablo Picasso period and the best interpretations of architect Antoni Gaudi’s modernista works. Students read introductions they wrote about each artist before their grade took its turn around the yard.
Choosing the winners was no easy task for the judges. Farmer, who works at MOMA and ran the Studio in School program at PS 34 for three years said, “Judging the art parade was super fun, but also tough. There were so many great creations and we didn’t have a lot of time. It came down to what stood out from the crowd.” She identified a Matisse-inspired silhouette painted on a student’s T-shirt and sweat pants as a favorite.
Crest Fest curator Franquinha looked for “genuine effort… on the kids’ behalf, not just the parents.’” While trying to pick winners, he considered “creativity and an approach to the project from a refreshing angle. For example, choosing a painting or artwork that might not be that artist’s most popular work or creating brand new art inspired by their artist’s method. Plus, I’m a softy for kids who put in a real effort to dress like the artist.” Franquinha was among many who couldn’t help but admire second grader Natalia’s nearly perfect transformation into Vincent Van Gogh.
Both judges were impressed by Summa’s ability to teach complicated subject matter to such young students and by their ability to grasp the material. “It’s inspiring to see kids learning about these important figures early on in their life and taking an interest in submersing themselves in the project,” said Franquinha. “Art history is enriching and helps build well rounded character which is more vital than they’ll ever know.” Added Farmer, “It was fantastic to witness all of the students’ creativity at such a unique and festive event.”
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