Creating Beauty through Fine Art

Creating Beauty through Fine Art
Posted on 12/05/2023
Senior master copiesAt MacLaren, everyone is an artist. Throughout the school day, students learn to see beauty all around – in their surroundings, in other people, and in the artwork that lines the school halls. While growing an appreciation for beauty, students receive focused instruction to create their own works of art.

Art teacher Pam Burrell explains, "Art is not reserved for certain people. Everyone has talent, and everyone can nurture their artistic side." Whether a student is in kindergarten, or high school, the approach to art instruction has a common thread. The art studio is a training ground where students observe techniques in various works of art and learn to use those techniques in their own creations.

Great art takes time to create.
Art instruction is not a "special," but is a core element of a liberal arts education at MacLaren. Students enjoy a world tour of art, with exposure to fine paintings, architecture, sculpture, and other forms of art representing different periods of history and varied cultures.

Through exposure to acknowledged masterworks, students develop the skills to observe the techniques used, discuss what they see, and practice modeling those techniques. Lower School art teacher Kimberly Proffitt, explains, "We observe a work together. We try to see the elements as well as feel and appreciate the art on a deeper level. We are analyzing the whole work and thinking about how it impacts us."

Ms. Proffitt reminds her students that "great art takes time." With this approach, she encourages students to slow down and take the time to grow in their skills to observe and then create. Students learn to express themselves creatively as they draw, paint, and make sculptures. Ms. Proffitt's passion for art and her students is contagious. She shares, "I love teaching them to love and appreciate art."

Find and nurture your artistic self.
Students are also learning artistic expression as a cornerstone of what it means to be fully human. Mrs. Burrell encourages her students to shed unhelpful ideas about art and reminds them that everyone can create art. The seventh-grade girls in Burrell's class have taken these lessons to heart and initiated a daily practice of declaring, "I pledge not to say that my art is bad!" Though humorous, this practice helps students set aside self-criticism and remain open minded to Burrell's goal of helping each student "find, nurture, and appreciate their artistic self."

If you give up, you'll never accomplish anything great.
While creating works of art, students are stretched and shaped. Senior Carl Cummings reflects, "There is a point, in each of our projects, whether charcoal, master copy, or self-portrait, where you think, ‘this looks awful, and it won’t ever get better.’ But by the end, I can say I was genuinely happy with each final product. This taught me that if you give up when something doesn’t seem to be working, you’ll never accomplish anything great.

This story is a summary of the November 2023 MacLaren Life Newsletter: Creating Beauty through Fine Art. Click here to read the entire issue and other newsletters to learn more about MacLaren's culture and curriculum.
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