Hands-on Art: a Journey in Artmaking

February 20, 2015 by

IMG_0031_2February is a busy month around here! Of course, we’re in full prep mode for the Chili Bowl Fiesta, but we’re also welcoming 80 elementary and middle school students into the studio through our Art-in-Education program, Hands-on Art. This program invites students and teachers from local schools to work in our professionally equipped studios alongside practicing artists, and encourages collaboration while exposing students to new techniques.

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Radha stands by as a student pulls a sheet of paper

Eighth graders from JW Bailey Middle School have already joined us twice for our winter session, and on Tuesday we welcomed fourth grade students from Crosby Elementary School. All of these budding young artists will spend time in the etching, papermaking, and silkscreen studios, working with resident artists, interns, and WSW alumnae.

Throughout the session, the middle school students will explore new ways to create self portraits. They’ve been encouraged to work abstractly, thinking about alternative modes of representation instead of focusing on literal portraiture. In papermaking, they’re working with Artist-in-Residence Radha Pandey to identify the body part that best represents them, embedding objects in paper to create corporeal imagery.

During their time with Paige Simpson in the silkscreen studio, the eighth graders are working to develop creative problem solving skills. These young artists start by drawing a shape—any shape—and printing it in color. Afterwards, they interpret their creations and combine them with line drawings to come up with self-representational imagery.


In the etching studio, Alyssa Bucci is guiding the students as they make their first linoleum-cut prints. Each student chooses an object that means something to them, then carefully prepares their plate. The resulting prints look like still-life studies, in a sense, but they also function as self portraits. Their work in each of the three studios builds upon itself, and leads to a deeper understanding of themes they’ve been exploring in their other studies.

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Anna introduces fourth graders to papermaking

The fourth graders from Crosby are taking an artistic journey with us: they’ll be making imaginative maps, landscapes, and houses. In papermaking, AIE Workspace Resident Anna Tararova is teaching them pulp painting and embedding techniques to create maps. She wants them to select one place that they’ve been, and recreate what they saw along the way.

In silkscreen, where Paige teaches both groups, the students are creating two-layer prints. Working from reference photos, they’ll learn to separate an image into foreground and background, then translate that to print. This process focuses on developing problem solving abilities, and increasing the students’ understanding of depth and perspective.

In etching, Cheyenne Mallo is teaching the fourth graders to combine illustration with etching techniques. They’re drawing their dream homes, then transferring them to shaped polystyrene plates. The front of each plate shows the outside of a dream house, while the reverse shows the inside.


Paige helps with silkscreen pulling techniques

Hands-on Art has been working with area schools for more than 25 years, and over 7,000 students have come through our studios. These young artists consistently remind us how much fun art can be, and their excitement always lingers after they’ve left. We’re so eager to see the beautiful work that these students are creating! Both groups will wrap up their experiences with an exhibition of work created at the WSW, so stay tuned for our next post and details on their exhibition.