Third Grade Art Students Inspired by Harlem Renaissance

As a part of their discussion of the Harlem Renaissance, Mr. Robinson’s Third Grade art students were tasked with researching two art forms that were created and popularized during the intellectual, social, and artistic boom. Their research culminated in the creation of two separate original pieces of art inspired by their research. Mr. Robinson and the students have been holding critiques during Zoom Art classes.

In celebration of World Art Day, and of the students’ creativity, we thought we’d share a few of the students’ projects here. You can enjoy images of their projects below:

“No One is Alone” A Note from the Grace Theatre Company

As school is closed in response to the Coronavirus, the Grace Theatre Company wasted little time in experimenting with what actors and musicians can create together, even when they are forced to be in separate places. The company, which was preparing to put on “Into the Woods” as this year’s spring musical, has been looking forward, thinking of ways to produce the musical in some sort of digital context given the uncertainty of when school will open again. What’s resulted, thus far, is this experimental rendition of “No One is Alone” from the famed show.

Ms. Washburn said, “It took 6 laptops, 6 phones, 5 locations, 5 sets of AirPods, several drafts, and a whole lot of patience to produce. We learned a lot and have some good ideas about how to do it better next time.” Teachers and students in all of the arts have been looking for ways to continue the work students have been engaged in this year while the physical school buildings are closed. This is just the first of what we expect to be many creative endeavors.

Teachers want students to continue honing their craft with the same hard work and determination they have shown all year, but they are also attuned to the anxieties that so much uncertainty can bring for students and families. In describing the spirit of the choice of number Ms. Washburn said, “Since the sentiment of the song seems pertinent to our times, we hope that this little bit of sweetness will brighten your day. Most of all, we want everyone to take the meaning of the attached video to heart: no one is alone. We are all going through this together. We do indeed have a Giant in our midst. Let’s commit to being with and for each other as we figure out what to do next.”

Ms. Washburn says this is just a teaser and, truly, an experiment as they explore ways of keeping the theater company together despite the distance between them. Check back here often to see other great work happening in the arts and other disciplines while school continues remotely.

Design Thinking in Grade 8 Art

By Philip Robinson, Art

The question posed to the eighth grade art students was straightforward: once a ‘need’ is identified, what are the steps needed to bring about change? Students learned how design thinking and problem solving can be used to answer that question.

The current ‘need’ at Grace is a gallery space where students can curate and display artwork. The hallways and front display case where current artwork is displayed is only a short-term solution. And even these spaces have multiple drawbacks: students running or leaning on the art, not enough space for large scale, three-dimensional sculptures in the glass display case. So I asked students, if money was not an issue and you could design a gallery for either campus what would it look like? Where would it be? What would your first exhibition look like?

Students had to learn how to accurately draw a two-dimensional floor plan and then erect that structure using the given materials: balsa wood, plexiglass, and foam core.  Once the gallery was built the students had to think about how they were going to curate their space with original artwork: photographs, sculpture, landscapes, etc. The final results were 46 proposals for a new gallery space for Grace Church School, a few of which can be seen in the pictures here. The public display of these proposals helps to start a larger conversation and validates the students’ work. When they return to Grace in 2, 3, or 5 years from now and see a new Gallery Space that they had a hand in bringing about change.

Goodbye Rhinos

Guest Post by Kim Chaloner, Dean of Community Life & Science Teacher

While focused on marching with our inspiring student leaders to oppose gun violence yesterday, and contemplating the awful costs of gun culture, I and some of the Grace community noticed an unusual site in Astor Place. Stacked in a solid and imposing 17 foot triplet, three bronze Northern White Rhinos arrived Wednesday, composing the largest rhino statue in the world. Their realistic forms, both delicately detailed and full of heavy meaning, told yet another story about gun violence and the need for our community’s attention to fight for a safe, sustainable and peaceful world.

“The Last Three” is a sculpture created by Gillie and Marc Art, public artists who have gained a reputation for making public sculpture a tool for conservation. As their website details, “Gillie and Marc’s coveted public artworks can be found all over the world including major cities such as Shanghai, New York and Sydney.” On Thursday morning, the couple, along with the Village Alliance, introduced the statue to the public. Having had the opportunity to meet the rhinos themselves, they created this piece to bring their story to the world.   

As the current Environmental Science teacher, I am all too well aware of the the gravity of these beautiful creatures’ personal stories, and this memorial to their waning existence. I was lucky enough to visit threatened Southern White Rhinos at Lake Nakuru Kenya in 2011 thanks to a Grace Faculty Travel Grant. These rhinos were brought back from the brink of extinction after hunting almost wiped them out, but the Northern White Rhinos will most likely be lost.  The Northern White Rhino, despite desperate efforts by the global community of conservation biologists, has only these three members left. Under armed guard at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya are Sudan, the last male, and his daughter and granddaughter, Najin and Fatu. These last three members of the subspecies represent the final victims of the brutal trade in rhino horns for mythical medicinal purposes, as well as hunting, poaching and habitat loss. As beacons of a global loss in species, said to be the sixth extinction as we see species going extinct at what is estimated to be 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural rates scientists have estimated.

I will certainly be bringing my students to Astor Place to, as the artists encouraged the public, feel and experience Sudan, Najin and Fatu. Speaking with INDE creators at the opening ceremonies, I learned that there is an iPhone app that allows kids traveling through Astor Place and walk with the rhinos to learn more about their plight, called INDE. Also, everyone is encouraged to write a goodbye message to the rhinos on the goodbye rhinos website, where notes to the species will be used to petition for better conservation practices.

Kim Chaloner is the Dean of Community Life at Grace and Environmental Science Teacher. One of the many roles she fills at Grace is coordinator of the school’s sustainability programming. Ms. Chaloner is in her nineteenth year at Grace Church School. Prior to working at Grace, Ms. Chaloner worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society.