Arts Renaissance instructor Mindy Smiley (left) gave blank cards for students to design their own artists’ trading cards, which became mini-masterpieces of art projects or art techniques done by the Arts Renaissance students at Eugene Fields School with ASPIRE students. Roosevelt third graders (l to r) Angel Willoughby and Janty Foley get supplies and discuss their ideas to put on the trading cards before being put in plastic protectors in a binder and given to each student at the conclusion of Arts Renaissance, sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Shortgrass Arts and Humanities.
The Eugene Fields School cafeteria turns into an art studio on late Tuesday afternoons in the ASPIRE (After School Program for Intervention, Remediation, and Enrichment) Program. The art program has been sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Shortgrass Arts and Humanities Council. Arts Renaissance instructor Mindy Smiley had designed educational projects that were creative and entertaining.
Artist trading cards were a new experience for making, collecting, and trading the mini-works of art techniques learned each week at the after-school art program. When projects were finished, each student had white cards the size of baseball cards to design using the art styles of the week. Then the cards were tucked into the plastic sleeve protectors and put in a three-ring binder. The kids discovered the fascination in collecting the trading cards featuring handmade and one-of-a-kind designs to be shown off, traded, or treasured. The cards had to be 2½ inches by 3½ inches in size, and they could be traded, but never sold. The painted, stamped, printed, and collaged cards had the name and date on the back of each card.
Mrs. Smiley passed on valuable advice on all the projects and the artists’ cards. She said, “Take your time, do your best work, and remember, there’s no such thing as ‘wrong’ in art.”
Another project of the third graders included learning about a painting done in the style of artist Vincent van Gogh. Mrs. Smiley made a copy of van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” painting that featured a dramatic night sky with twinkling stars and twisting trees. The students learned about his intense colors and brush stroke techniques. Mrs. Smiley cut her copy into rectangles and each student used colored pencils to draw their assigned piece on larger paper using the grid concept. The students’ work was joined together by Mrs. Smiley into a mural displayed in the school foyer. This was also displayed at the Altus Public Library in March and through April.
The students learned about pencil drawings, paper crafts, printmaking, oil pastels, watercolors, making collages, sculpture, and many more during the 24 sessions. All the final art pieces made by the students were taken home and/or displayed during the year. By completing the creative arts, the students learned to achieve, feel good about themselves and others, and improved their performance in creative expression and reading through this enrichment program.
Arts Renaissance enrolled 47 third graders in the ASPIRE program that concluded on March 6. These children were assisted through the after-school teachers Gwen Brakebill, Lori Pierce, Sue Henthorn, Leslie Conrad, Denise Barton, and Angie Allen, and ASPIRE Program Director Diana Robins.
Another aspect of the art program has been the involvement of volunteers who made the program successful. Doug and Earnesteen Dalton of Friendship volunteered weekly to assist with the program.