Welcome to Get Smart About Art!
GSAA is run by the PRS PTO, and our goal is to supplement the children’s art studies teaching them about various artistic movements and individual artists. The program was first created 20+ years ago and completely revamped in 2019 with the addition of new artists and projects, many suggested by PRS’s talented art teacher, Ms. Kelfer—so that we now have an even more amazing program to nurture the kids’ love and understanding of artwork in its many forms.
Students enjoy GSAA in every grade at PRS. Each session begins with a presentation on a style of art and specific artists of that genre. The students then have the opportunity to create artwork in that style. We get the kids drawing, sculpting, painting, photographing, papermaking, and much more.
Following are brief descriptions of the GSAA program for each grade:
GSAA kicks off in Kindergarten with cave art! The kids learn about the artwork found in the Lascaux Caves in France dating back to 17,000 BC and draw animals and symbols together for a class mural. They search for shapes in artwork by Matisse, Miro, Mondrian, Braque, Rothko, and Escher, Gee’s Bend quilts, and rock and ice formations by Andy Goldsworthy. The kids then create wild shape sculptures themselves. The Kindergartners also design collage placements after studying the artwork of Pablo Picasso.
First graders start with Italian Renaissance artists Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Raphael. Imitating Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the kids lie on their backs to color on paper taped to the bottom of their desks. Next we move onto Impressionism, introducing the kids to Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Mary Cassatt. The children paint their versions of Monet’s garden. After learning about Vincent Van Gogh, students create their own “Starry Night” with pastels.
GSAA in second grade begins with Georgia O’Keeffe. The children study her flower and cattle skull paintings and southwest landscapes, and draw their own still lifes of flowers. They build mobiles in our section on Alexander Calder. The kids learn the calming effects of Japanese Zen Gardens and make a garden to bring home. After we contrast the realistic and abstract expressionist styles of John Singleton Copley and Jackson Pollock, the students “splatter” paint onto a large canvas like Pollock. The second grade program culminates with a field trip the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see some of the artwork they studied.
GSAA highlights Massachusetts’ own artists and collectors for third grade. Students learn about Boston art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner and make paper and cellophane stained glass windows after the ones in her museum. The kids then study Massachusetts illustrators and painters, including Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell, and Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss!). An artist visits the class to teach the children how to watercolor paint. They also take a field trip to try out their new watercolor skills.
Fourth grade GSAA builds on the students’ studies of Asia, with presentations and projects on the Chinese inventions of paper, tangrams, and kites. The children try their hand at making paper and creating tangram designs. The fourth graders visit the Museum of Fine Arts for the “Art of Asia” tour.
Fifth graders learn all about photography—the history of the camera and photography as an art form. Students select images from National Geographic to create artwork in the style of Pencil versus Camera artist, Ben Heine and take some shots themselves with a Polaroid camera.
We are always looking for volunteers! No art talent or knowledge required. This program is designed to be just as fun as it is educational. Coordinate GSAA for your child’s grade, present to a class, or help students with the projects. If you’d like to volunteer, learn more, or have ideas to share, please email GSAA Chair, Holly Moriarty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GSAA presentations and supporting documents are now all stored on a Google Doc drive. Please contact, the GSAA chair, Holly Moriarty at email@example.com for access to the drive. Also, hard copies are in the bins in the PTO closet.