At Immaculate Conception School, students have fun as they learn about, think about, write about, and make ART!
ICS follows both the National and New Jersey State Standards for the Visual Arts.
After one year of piloting Pre-Kindergarten Art in an Enrichment Program it was brought into the regular weekly curriculum. Developmentally, Pre-Kindergartners learn best through exploration and experimentation. Therefore, process-oriented, open-ended art experiences are provided. The emphasis is on PROCESS rather than PRODUCT.
Art appreciation is used as a source of inspiration, often focusing on Abstract artists such as Jackson Pollock, Paul Klee, Alexander Calder, and Louise Nevelson. We notice how these artists use line, shape, and texture.
Working both two- and three-dimensionally, students paint with watercolors and tempera paint, cut and past collages, make rubbings, stamp objects, build structures, and play with clay. All of these activities help develop the students' fine motor skills, so critical for school readiness.
Kindergarteners continue to create a lot of process-oriented art, but begin to learn the tools artists use to intentionally develop a work of art. These "tools" are called our "Elements of Art"
The focus is often on an Element in conjunction with drawing inspiration from a picture book or learning about an artist. Some of the artists we have studied include Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. Media explored in Kindergarten includes watercolor, tempera paint, clay, collage, printmaking, pastels, and paper construction.
First and Second Grade
In First and Second Grade, we continue to emphasize the Elements of Art through the exploration of a wide range of media. We delve into the Elements in greater depth than in Kindergarten, learning warm vs. cool colors, complementary and analogous color schemes, neutrals, how to create tints and tones, geometric vs. organic shapes, and the difference between symmetry and asymmetry. We also combine the elements to create patterns.
First and Second Graders enthusiastically respond to picture books as sources of inspiration. Eric Carle is a perennial favorite due to his beautiful hand-crafted paper collages. We learn about several artists each year such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keefe, and Vincent Van Gogh. In addition to looking at artist’s work, we also explore other cultures, such as Chinese New Year dragons and South Pacific Tiki Masks.
Third and Fourth Grade
In Third and Fourth Grade, students are really beginning to develop both confidence and mastery of materials. This is a great age that is ready to try anything and everything. At this point, we take a leap and learn how artists combine the various Elements of Art to create the Principles of Design:
For example, we might look at a work of art and notice that an artist uses only cool colors to create UNITY, possibly with a touch of a warm color to provide EMPHASIS. We notice that by repeating lines or shapes or colors an artist can create both RHYTHM and MOVEMENT. Students make the connection that rhythm is similar to a beat in music.
With their dramatically increased fine motor skills, Third and Fourth Graders enjoy fiber arts such as weaving, embroidery, and quilting. Over the years, Fourth Graders have created four class quilts as gifts to the school. They proudly hang in the Media Center.
Fifth and Sixth Grade
By Fifth and Sixth Grade, students are expected to incorporate all of their knowledge of the Elements of Art and Principles of Design into artwork that is personally meaningful to them. Assignments are flexible enough to encourage a wide range of responses and students are given a greater choice of materials. We continue our study of both Art History and other cultures in a more focused way.
At this age, students start to look at their own artwork with a more critical and sophisticated eye. Sometimes they feel they come up short. Therefore, we work on learning the basic skills of drawing realistically. We draw from life (outside during warm weather). We learn about the Right Side vs. the Left Side of the brain and work through some of those revelatory exercises. We learn the basics of shading with values to make objects appear more three-dimensional. We learn the fundamentals of one- and two-point perspective, which changed the course of art history.
Throughout the program, however, we endeavor to find projects in which all the students will feel successful.
Seventh and Eighth Grade
By the time students reach Seventh and Eighth Grade, they have attained a high level of skill and produce beautiful, sophisticated work. We often begin the year with assignments which highlight these skills, such as linoleum prints or gridded drawings and paintings.
In the middle of the year, we shift focus toward creative, open-ended projects. These have ranged from Bas Relief Face Sculptures to Art History Peep Parodies to Famous Painting Dioramas to collaborative Stop Motion Claymation Videos.
Along the way, we survey the course of Art History and respond in writing to Aesthetic questions. At this age, students are eager to think critically about the meaning of art, what makes art good or bad, and who gets to decide.
Several years ago, we decided to beautify the three stairwells with permanent tile murals depicting the Holy Family: Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. We wanted these to be instructional as well as beautiful—in the tradition of artwork sponsored by the Catholic Church for centuries. We began with Mary, our school’s namesake, in the center stairwell. Every Seventh and Eighth Grader participated in its creation. Two years later, another set of classes created the Joseph Mural; and finally, two years after that, we concluded with the Jesus Mural.
At the end of every year, we have a school-wide Art Exhibition. A highlight of the show is the special presentation of the Eighth Graders’ Independent Projects. The art curriculum builds toward ever-increasing freedom, culminating in a final project of the students’ choosing. The only requirement is that the students must tie their piece into the school’s Mission Statement and write an Artist Statement.