What The Elementary Students Said About Art


Our school celebrated the opening of the Elementary Art Show for grades 1 – 5 on Friday. Positioned along a main corridor of the school, students and their families were able to feast their eyes on over 300 distinct pieces of artwork, selected by each student to be included in the display. Because I travel this hallway several times a day on my way to and from the gyms, I had multiple opportunities to glance at a few pieces each time through. What really caught my attention, though, were the artists’ statements. Alongside each artwork, my colleague, Sabina Trombetta, posted the artist’s name with a statement. I was struck by these honest testaments to students’ relationships to their effort, their craft, their enjoyment and their understanding. Here’s a sample of what some of them said: (The number refers to the grade level of the student)

Art makes me feel happy. 1

I am an artist because my teacher taught me how to be an artist. I like to do different things. 1

I am an artist because I can turn everything into art. 1

I am an artist because it is my thing. 1

I have learned that not all artworks have to be perfect and how you want. 2

I like art because it’s fun seeing new stuff, looking in a different way, and exploring. 2

I love art so much. It is my favorite subject. Art makes me feel happy and loved. I love art so much I even drew with my left hand when I had a broken arm. 2

I have learned feelings in color. 2

Art is very calm. It makes me smile. 2

Art can be a dream.  You can fly or visit outer space.   But most of all art is from the heart. 3

Art can be a great inspiration. I have learned art takes time. 3

Art can be good and normal. Everybody does different art. 3

Art is good. But it’s challenging. 3

Art is so fun even if it’s boring. I always find some way to make it fun. 3

I love art. Art is my life. On the first day of school I was like “Is there art?” 3

To me, art is anything you want it to be. 4

This artwork is a musical country. My inspiration came from Motown.  I ran wild with my imagination making it. 3

Art is something everyone can do. 4

When I create art it makes me feel relief. 4

When I create art I think that I’m in the picture. 4

I have learned that if you want something to go your way you have to work for it. 3

I have learned that art is everywhere. 4

Without art I wouldn’t have done this beautiful piece. I would have some boring blank spots. 4

Art makes me feel free. My inspiration for this artwork is reality. 5

I think art is important for me because you can be creative. 5

The experience draws the art. 5

I have learned many things, but art is a gift granted on all. Some big, some small, art is everywhere waiting to be found. 5

My inspiration comes from the things around me. 4

I love art because when I’m mad at my brother or I’m sad, art always calms me down. 3

I wish I could share more of their insights and ideas. Reading each one gave me a fresh view of each child. Again, I am humbled by what children will tell us if we would simply listen.

That Time Lightning Struck


plus this:

Now that I have watched this video 4 times and have found myself weeping, I need to share a few thoughts:

Art can do this for us: go deep, unlock the floodgates of emotions and remind us that we are not here by accident.

This song has always touched me. I was about the singer’s age (15) when it came out. I never saw Dreamgirls live but I sure knew that song.

Tressie’s tweet was my alert. And #BlackGirlMagic means more to me than I usually say. As Sarah Ikumu begins singing I find myself taken aback, pulled deep into my feelings. There’s a connection to the tone, the richness of her voice, the tradition of singers and singing she is bringing to life with such piercing confidence.
Her facial expressions tell you she knows exactly who she is when she is singing. There is no doubt, no reservation, no hesitation. She is a woman who knows her greatness, full stop.

I don’t need to see the audience’s response to know how I feel during these precious 5 minutes. Watching Sarah and her command of the stage are mesmerizing. She holds me and does not let go until the very last exhale of that song. My tears and heart swelling are the only natural responses.

For me this performance has everything to do with belief and being our full selves. Because Sarah does this so forcefully, she invites me to do the same: believe – and be my full self. To believe and be great. To believe and floor the audience. To believe and know that #BlackGirlMagic stands for me too, at 5 at 15, at 50.

Thank you, Sarah Ikumu, for sharing your particular magic and rekindling mine.