At Brent ES (301 North Carolina Ave. SE), art teacher Sara Gibson uses a choice-based approach to education. Students are regarded as artists and given freedom to choose a subject and the means to execute their ideas, from a wide array available of materials within the studio. They work at their own pace, developing skills as they need them. These materials and skills include the traditional – painting, drawing with markers and pastels, and collage – but also those less common including assemblage and embroidery.
Ms. Gibson’s philosophy is that “not every piece can or should be a masterpiece. In the same way that musicians and athletes practice, artists experiment and practice to learn from their work. WOW- Wonderful Original Works of Art is a collection of their finished products, the result of careful work, planning and editing. The students understand that artistic focus is essential. As Ry explains, “WOW work is made of your best effort being creative, making it unique.”
The children are encouraged to collaborate; several pieces in the show are the work of more than a single artist. They also critique each other’s work, much as adult artists do, through a formal peer review process. Ms. Gibson notes that her students use this feedback to “adjust their work, if necessary, to make sure that their work spoke clearly and powerfully to their audience.” Or as Heayn puts it “… when you are done you can publish it or do something good with it.”
Each artist then crafts an artist statement, a written description of the work, to give the viewer insight into its context and meaning.
The show is on view in the ground floor gallery at Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave, SE through the end of April. Ms. Gibson and her students hope that you enjoy viewing the WOW work as much as they enjoyed creating it.