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Queens Chronicle

The art of teaching: Queens classrooms exhibit work

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Posted: Thursday, February 3, 2011 12:00 am

The Summit School’s Japanese ink paint maestro Marla Kleinman gracefully splashes red lotus flowers against a peaceful, dark green backdrop, unveiling an air of vivid dynamic and effortless elegance.

Her apprentice, ninth-grader Sophie Maynard at the Jamaica Estates school, paints with the same momentum and spontaneity as her sensei, with mature shades outlining her piece, “Bamboo,” in a striking contrast of black ink against soft rice paper.

It’s as the saying goes: like teacher, like student.

The duo’s pieces are part of “Queens: Multiple Visions,” a teacher-student exhibition that features selected artworks and educators’ narratives explaining the colorful relationships and interlocking visions that take place in 17 kindergarten through 12th-grade art classrooms across the borough.

“Showcasing a high level of artistic work is typical, but what’s different about this exhibit is that it also reveals the process of learning,” said Rikki Asher, director of art education, secondary education and youth services at Queens College, a venue which will house the exhibit.

Art teachers are trained in creative strategy and child psychology, and they combine those skills with what they learn in the studio to effectively reach out to students, Asher explained. The aesthetics and philosophies reflected in the featured artwork are not only the manifestation of dialogue between educators and their pupils, but also between different generations of growing artists, she added.

“The works that we chose for the exhibit really speak to each other,” said Lauren Schloss, director of education at the Queens Museum of Art, the venue initially hosting the exhibition. “We wanted to present a fresh understanding of the conversations that take place in classrooms, and we do so by showcasing the connections, and also the disconnects, that are apparent in the styles and energies of the artwork.”

As a museum educator, Schloss said she hopes the exhibit encourages young artists to continue their craft, as they see that their works are worthy enough to be matted and framed on a gallery wall.

Art teacher Laurie Marcus of PS 330 said she already views her students’ work as “art” rather than “children’s art.” Children bring to artistic expression many of the same desires that motivate adults: delight in communication and fascination with formal properties of art, she said.

Asher, who educates future teachers, said she hopes the exhibit shows the importance of developing relationships as part of pedagogy, a lesson particularly important at a time when budget cuts have made art education marginal.

‘Queens: Multiple Visions ’

When: Feb. 9 through 27, Wednesday through Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Queens Museum of Art, NYC Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park

(718) 592-9700

Second showing: April 2011 through March 2012, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing

(718) 997-5000

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