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Chihuly at the Primary School

The evening of February 8 was a night to remember for third grade students at Woodward Academy's Primary School. Third graders completed a six-month Project Based Learning (PBL) unit titled, "Chihuly at the Primary School." The goal was to create both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art in the style of renowned artist Dale Chihuly while learning about the Elements of Art. This unit included math, science, language arts, social engagement, the use of technology, and, of course, visual arts.

First, we studied each of the Elements of Art. With that information in hand, we traveled to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to view the exhibit of Chihuly's sculptures. As we visited different sculptures, students were able to discuss which elements of art were present in particular sculptures. While at the gardens, students sat on the grass and drew in the style of Chihuly. They used fists full of pencils to create a value drawing of an original sculpture. We took those drawings back to the classroom and students selected one of their drawings and added color. We applied the color by using squirt bottles with bright colors just like Chihuly.

During art class, with their finished paintings in front of them, each student wrote detailed notes to develop an artist statement. The artist statement included details about specific elements of art that were present in their painting. They also included how Chihuly and their experience in the garden inspired them. Third grade teachers helped students fine-tune their notes for their final statement. The Primary School Collaboratory Team videotaped each student reading his or her artist statement and created a QR code for each video. The QR codes were displayed on the students' paintings.

During art class, each student produced four individual pieces for a six-foot long chandelier. We used plastic plates and colored them in different patterns. Each student was able to use the heat gun to slightly melt their plate. Chihuly used teams of artists to produce the glass sculptures he designed. He used others to help him do what he was unable to do. Our third graders did the same thing. Parents helped us assemble and tie each individual piece onto the armature of the chandelier. There are more than 450 individual pieces in the structure. As a surprise, a light was installed on the inside of the chandelier. Students saw the chandelier lit for the first time at their Artist Reception on February 8.

More than 300 guests and students attended the reception. Attendees strolled the halls using a personal device to listen to different artist statements, scanning the QR codes. At the designated time, the Chihuly-inspired chandelier was revealed and lit. The class of 2026 is very proud of their accomplishments. The paintings will be displayed at the Primary School art gallery through March 2017. We invite everyone to come stop by to enjoy the beautiful artwork and see for yourself the amazing work our students have created.


Ms. Joey Kiernan, Primary School Art Teacher

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