Lower School Creativity On Display in "We Are ALL ARTISTS"

A dazzling array of artworks enliven Princeton Day School's Anne Reid '72 Art Gallery for the next month as Lower School students share their creations in "We Are ALL ARTISTS." The show displays a wide range of media and techniques, including paper-making, ceramics, watercolor, and woodworking, with different projects commingling on the gallery walls to create a tapestry of lively colors.

The exhibit kicks off with receptions on Monday, January 28 from 8–9am for parents and friends of PreK-Grade 1 students, and Tuesday, January 29 from 8–9am for parents and friends of students in Grades 2–4. Refreshments will be served and student musicians will perform on violin and keyboard at each reception.

"This show is called 'We Are ALL ARTISTS,'" explains Lower School art teacher Jen Gallagher, "because Lower schoolers are fearless and free and so excited to create art. Whatever they get their hands on, they're just happy—it's so exciting."

Students in PreK showcase watercolors that have been textured with salt, along with acrylic paintings made with a narrow edge to create abstract compositions that contrast black hash marks with a bold color of each student's choosing. "At this age, it's really about just giving them the materials, showing them some ways they can use them, and then letting them play. It's incredible what they create," Gallagher says.

Kindergartners made their own recycled papers and embellished them with glitter ("They can't get enough glitter," Gallagher jokes), then drew sea creatures and painted them on transparent acetate to create layered works with the paper as backdrop.

"Many of our projects connect to other curriculum," explains Gallagher. First graders created ceramics and watercolors inspired by their yearlong study of birds and the colorful, geometric work of artist Charley Harper. Second graders made their own ceramic spirit animal totems, informed by their study unit on the Lenape Indians. Third graders created prints based on their work in the PDS garden, which will be used to design seed packets for the annual Seed Store in the spring.

Fourth graders contributed a range of works to the show: in woodshop with Chris Maher, they created shadowboxes based on the work of sculptor Louise Nevelson; in Jen Gallagher's class, they made mixed media collages inspired by the hearts series of artist Jim Dine; and in Eric Rempe's ceramics class, they created self-portraits on small plates by applying hand-illustrated decals prior to firing the works in the kiln.

"As they get older, students tend to become more critical of their own artwork," says Gallagher. "They might erase the beginnings of a project and start over, saying 'It's not good enough' or even, 'I'm not artistic.'" This exhibition, she says, reflects the openness, confidence, and appetite for risk-taking of our youngest students: "Every kid is, and can be, an artist."

–Justin Goldberg

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