Take a great deal of excitement and throw in the very hard work of Colorado Academy art students and teachers, and voilà! You have the Pre-K-8 Art Showcase in the Ponzio Arts Center Main Gallery, displaying nearly 500 pieces of student art.
“CA’s art students enjoy being celebrated in a professional art space like the Ponzio Gallery,” says Lower School art teacher Angela Hottinger. “They are excited to share their artistic visions, and their artwork is a small glimpse into the process-intensive work that they create on a daily basis.”
Pre-K students created self-portraits with their own personal touches and also designed gingerbread houses they planned to build.
Kindergarten students worked with Ms. Hottinger to create “The Animal in Me,” sketching multiple ideas and then painting animals that they felt represented and expressed themselves.
In “Wild Imaginations,” Ms. Hottinger presented First Graders with a challenge. Instead of using tape or glue, they had to experiment with paper engineering techniques, as they created lively 3D animals and creatures that could stand on their own. “There was so much problem-solving going on in the creation of these pieces,” says Hottinger. “They had to figure out how to make two different directional planes intersect and stand up!”
Second Grade students collected items from the fall landscape to create encaustic wax paintings and handmade books, inspired by CA’s visiting artist, Patricia Aaron, and their own memories and feelings.
Hottinger coached Third Grade artists as they created batik paintings on silk. They made radial designs on paper, transferred them to silk, and then painted them. The results created a colorful, airy floating display in the Ponzio Art Gallery.
Art instructor Jorge Muñoz led Fourth Grade artists through several different projects, including cryptozoology, the study of unknown animals. He asked students to design and illustrate hybrid animals. “I use that to introduce students to a Mexican art form called alebrijes, which is the creation of brightly colored folk art sculptures of fantasy creatures,” says Munoz. “They love the idea of inventing their never-before-heard-of creature and giving it a name.”
Muñoz also introduced Fifth Grade artists to different photography techniques, including composition, focus, exposure, intent, and forced perspective. And Sixth Grade artists worked with him on independent art projects.
Some Seventh and Eighth Grade artists worked with Raether Library Assistant and Middle School Ceramics Instructor Becci Marzonie to learn ancient pottery techniques and create pinch pots and coil pots. Seventh and Eighth Grade students also had the opportunity to work with visiting artist Patricia Aaron, learning how to manipulate and layer hot wax onto wooden panels to create ethereal abstract paintings.
Other Seventh and Eighth Grade students worked with photography teacher Karen Donald to create “Constructed Landscapes.” They learned to use the manual functions of a DSLR camera and then they manipulated their images in Adobe Photoshop, using different viewpoints to move beyond “point and shoot” photography. “We work on the development of what I call the ‘photographic eye,’” says Donald. “They are presenting their point of view and asking, ‘What am I trying to tell the world?’”
On the last day of the show, Hottinger was there to greet families who had come to admire the art. “Every child—every person—is an artist with their unique language and spirit,” she says. “The best thing you can ask a student to encourage creativity is, ‘Tell me about your artwork,’ and let them, in their own words, express how they see the world through their unique artistic voice. That is what opens an adult’s eyes to their world.”