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Where shall we go? Reflections on a new year…

Keriann Armusewicz, Visual Art Teacher

As we embark on a new year, I find myself contemplating the significance of the title of a work by Paul Gauguin: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (An excerpt of the piece is included above.) It’s that last question – Where Are We Going? – that sticks with me every time I view this piece.

Student artwork created by 2nd-graders Annie, Izzy, and Mera.

In looking towards the future of building the visual arts program at PBS, the goals of this year are clear: to empower students as individual artists who are willing to take risks in their art-making, to have students reflect on their own art-making processes, and for students to be able to engage with art around them.

But then what?

We can continue to work towards this goal, but is there a responsibility for an elementary visual arts program to take on more? Perhaps I ask this question in part because of the era in which we live and the plethora of academic writings circulating about social justice and education, or maybe because I finally read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and I’m inspired. 

In tandem with our emotional intelligence program, students learn – at times extensively – about mood and how artists express their feelings visually. In our 5th-grade visual art CONNECT, we looked at murals from around the world and touched on the social issues they drew attention to.

But do we dive deeper?

Piet Mondrian believed that the art he created in conjunction with Neo-Plastic theory could change the world by changing the way society saw and interacted with the world around them. Should we, too, look to loftier goals, hoping to better the world in which we live through the art we produce? There are a lot of places we can go as a community, and I for one am excited about the possibilities that 2018 brings with it.

Where shall we go? 

Keriann Armusewicz joined the PBS community in 2017, coming to us from Sag Harbor, New York, though her career teaching art has brought her to Singapore, South Korea, and Egypt. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art education from the State University College at Buffalo, from which she graduated magna cum laude, and a master’s degree in art and art education from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Image credits: At the top, an excerpt of Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? by Paul Gauguin, courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass. At right, PBS student artwork, produced by 2nd-graders Izzy, Annie, and Mera.

  • visual art

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