Visual Arts at Magnolia Park

Magnolia Park School | Funded Spring 2016

Magnolia Park School is a small campus, serving a population of students with special needs.  As there are no dedicated arts teachers on staff, the school turns to outside teaching artists to integrate the arts into the students’ curriculum. One of their most successful partnerships has been with visual artist Alvaro Asturias, who has done several artist-in-residency programs at Magnolia Part over the last few years. In the 2016-17 school year, Mr. Asturias worked with students over a 10-week period of time, completing two projects: a book-making project and a wall painting, both integrating visual arts the students’ study of different historical time periods. For the book-making project, students studied ancient Mayan and Aztec codices, which are accordion books used for storytelling. They then developed their own stories, which they translated into pictures to create their own codices.

For the wall painting, students learned about the historical relevance of ancient world wall paintings and selected Greek Mythology as the cultural focus and style for their own wall painting. Together, students, school staff, and Mr. Asturias identified specific Greek myths to represent on the wall, developed small studies of images and then used these small images to plan and create a larger painting.

This project helped students learn the patience needed when involved in a detailed process, and how to follow directives while managing frustrations caused by “creative ‘boundaries’ that were created to be consistent with the historical practice of wall painting and the codices.”

“In general, the students teaming to complete a large project created an opportunity for students to not only complete a long-term project but also work together collaboratively. Students who typically have limited interactions with each other were all invested in completing a collective project. Randall Badders, one of the full-time special education teachers at Magnolia Park School, reports that the greatest impact of the project related to the necessity for the students to collaborate on the Wall Painting. Students were required to work together in various capacities throughout the process. Initially, there was a group processing of the ideas. Then, the culmination at the end of the project required physical coordination and patience. Mr. Badders also reported observing the students to have positive ownership and excitement at the final showing of the artwork.” -Ann Brooks, Magnolia Park Principal & Avra Warsofsky, Program Specialist

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