by Isabella Cordell
There are many benefits to attending a small liberal arts college. Personally, I am always most enthused by the small, personalized classes that allow you to explore specific passions. No class exemplifies the advantages of this type of teaching more than ART 410, led by Professor Katherine Smith.
A new course this semester, ART 410 allows students to direct special projects at Oakhurst Elementary School. Through this course, students learn valuable leadership skills, gain knowledge about art education, assist the local community, and apply their previous art instruction to a real-world context. In order to understand more about the course and its objectives, I joined the ART 410 class for a day of making art.
One student proudly shows me her giraffe. Credit: Isabella Cordell
For this session, the ART 410 class was making animals, both real and imaginary, with Ms. Thorie’s kindergarten class. Using construction paper, the Oakhurst students drew, colored, and cut out their animal creations. The end goal of ART 410 is to compile the art of every class they work with into a book. Then, the final art pieces will be sold at an auction attended by the parents of the school. In this way, the Agnes Scott students will learn through an art project, and Oakhurst will benefit from funds raised through the auction.
The project also connected to the kindergarten class’s study of animals, prompting a lot of excitement from the eager kindergarteners. The session began with a brief introduction from Professor Katherine Smith, followed by an overview of the project by second-year students Asher Tures and Belinda Grace Brooks.
Second-year Asher Tures oversees the art projects. Credit: Isabella Cordell
Throughout the course, Tures and Brooks helped the children with their projects. This help primarily consisted of assistance with cutting out shapes and conversing with the students about their interests and artistic visions. The animals drawn were exceptionally varied, from an egg with legs to a lion to a dragon, although the day ended with many characters from the Pokémon universe. One student I talked to, Henry, took pride in drawing what he proudly exclaimed was “the coolest monster you’ve ever seen.”
The project was especially exciting for the students with a passion for animals. One girl excitedly talked about her three bunnies. A student named Adalynn shared her plans to one day be a veterinarian, prompting another student to enthusiastically share that she too wanted to be a vet. Another girl told me facts about rhinoceros. The project not only captured the artistic imaginations of the young group but also led to a lot of conversation about a topic they enjoyed.
Second-year Belinda Grace Brooks asks students about their creations. Credit: Isabella Cordell
After the class, I interviewed Tures and Brooks on their experiences with the course. “I think one of my favorite aspects of the course is getting to have interactions with the kids and seeing the imaginative animals they come up with,” said Tures. “I’ve really enjoyed working with the kids, because it’s really fun to see what they create,” added Brooks.
The unique structure of the class is also helpful for Agnes Scott students to identify career goals and academic interests. “My plan is to be an educator and I’m hoping this course gives me insight into art education,” stated Tures. “I’m an art history major, and while I haven’t been directly interested in art education, if I want to work in a museum or an archive, working with kids is a good start,” said Brooks.
The auction takes place on Friday, April 22. Until then, both Agnes Scott and Oakhurst School students are mutually benefiting from a unique art education experience.