In spring 2014, the Smart Museum of Art invited 5th grade students from Beasley Academic Center to become artists and art critics.
During an eight-week collaboration that included visits to the Smart as well as art-making sessions in their classroom, the students worked with their teacher Shannon Foster and Smart Museum teaching artist Candice Latimer to create artwork in response to four Museum objects. In the Smart's 40th anniversary exhibition Object and Voices, you’ll find the students’ resulting pieces alongside the works that inspired them.
During this collaboration, the students developed observation and communication skills related to visual literacy, building upon observation and creative writing exercises introduced to them in the galleries.
Latimer, who not only facilitated the art-making process but also engaged the students in the development of their artistic vision, reflects: “Seeing is such an active experience for a 5th grader. Somewhere between all the introspective discoveries and making sense of the world, there exists a fascinating web of connections. We are presented here with a rare opportunity to have a glimpse into some beautiful minds, by looking at a selection of artworks from the Smart Museum’s collection through the eyes of a group of 5th graders.”
The intensive eight-week process yielded many insights. Students asked of Alice Neel’s The City: “Who is that lonely guy? Is he like me?” Others pondered their lives at home while they examined Michiel Simons’ Still Life with Fruit and Flowers on a Draped Ledge. Students recalled the deaths of loved ones while looking at the Chinese mingqi sculptures, and reflected on personal and public “victory” through Jeff Donaldson’s Victory in the Valley of Eshu.
A version of this article was originally published in the gallery guide to Objects and Voices. Join student artists and curators from Beasley for a special Family Day from 1–4 pm at the Smart on June 6, 2015.