Jonny Schremmer | October 5 | Cougar Chronicle

Dear New School Families,

As the leaves begin to change color all around us, I feel like we’re living inside a beautiful painting. A quick science lesson: as the days get shorter, trees lack enough sunlight to make food. They stop producing chlorophyll, which causes the green color to leave the foliage. The result is the true color of the leaves - the oranges and yellows we love so much. Somehow this reminds me of the work we’re all doing right now. With many limitations in place around our campus, sometimes our true colors get a chance to surface in unexpected and beautiful ways. I reached out to TNS art teachers Christina Mariotti, Katie Parker, Bonnie King and Madison Lewis to see how they and their creative students are doing, masks and all. 

In Early Childhood, our youngest ones have been working with foil, tissue paper and glue. Ms. Christina writes, “The projects came out reflecting light because of the foil. We also used powdered pastels to draw pumpkins, but before we rendered them we formed balls from play dough to sense the feeling of the shape first. Another project is our 3D paper sculpture on display. We made pictures in tubs by rolling a golf ball over paper with different colors of paint to represent the changing colors in the fall leaves outside.” 

Down the hall and around a few corners, the third graders just finished a unit about Sonia Delaunay. Ms. Katie explains, “The students created geometric patterns to resemble textiles that she created for the fashion industry in the 1960s and 1970s.  I also loved teaching the kindergarten students about Henri Matisse.  They created colorful paper collages and didn't even know that they were working on fine motor cutting and gluing skills in the process.” When asked how the pandemic has affected her classes Katie answers, “I've had to rethink almost every aspect of my lessons, but it has made me very efficient in art supply use, storage, and cleaning.  It has been challenging with all of the new safety recommendations, but as art teachers, we always seem to find creative ways to adapt.”

Over in the Academic Building, Middle School artists just finished one and two point perspective. New TNS teacher Ms. Bonnie says, “Fourth grade used Bird's Eye or Worm's Eye View. Fifth grade created imaginary spaces like Slime City or an underwater drive-in theater. Sixth grade learned two-point perspective and are creating something of their choice such as a castle or a ranch style home. We're continuing the theme of architecture in STEAM, and the students will eventually build a collaborative structure.” She continues, “Masks haven't been that much of a struggle. I only dislike not being able to see facial expressions because that's a key component to communication, in my opinion. I'm a goofball and I use that to relate to my students, so I worry if that is still getting across when I interact with them. Social distancing has impacted the arts in a way that I have to rethink what supplies we use and how we use them. I also really enjoy collaborative learning, so that will have to look different, but I'm hopeful that it's still possible.”

Ms. Madison in Upper School writes, “Right now, one of my favorite projects is the Food Dying + Embroidery that the Fiber Arts students are doing. They boiled food and spices in vinegar water and they each dyed a t-shirt. We used beets which produced a pink color, turmeric which produced yellow, and paprika which produced orange. Now they are embroidering a design on the dyed shirt.” She adds, “Making art while masked and social distancing is not as hard as I expected it to be.”

Our art teachers and their resilience remind me of something I heard therapist Esther Petel say recently on Ted Talk Radio, which is that “a pandemic, a disaster, often will highlight the cracks. And it will also highlight the light that shines through the cracks.” Here are Ms. Christina’s hopeful words as we begin October: “The mask life is good, although your ears hurt at the end of the day. But we have not let that ruin our fun. We are still as crazy and joyful as ever, bringing happiness to others with our creations.” 

May we all keep finding colorful ways to adapt, rethink and shine this fall!


With Cougar Pride,

Jonny Schremmer

The New School Arts Director

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