My students are a group of young people who are "at-risk." They are often new to art with low expectations of their own ability to learn to draw and paint and create sculptures.
Students in my class are quite visually oriented, although few of them have had prior art enrichment.
Our school is an alternative high school with a student population that is 70% Hispanic, 15% African American, and 15% Caucasian. More than 75% of our students qualify for the free lunch program due to their socioeconomic standing. About 30% of our students have learning disabilities.
Many of my students have had struggles in more traditional educational settings and have been transferred to our school to recoup credits lost. It is important for these young people to find something in the curriculum that engages them. Art is it, for many students. Not only does it bridge the language barriers, it draws students to the multisensory experiences it provides.
In art, students often find themselves surprised by what they can do. Art can provide physical proof of their achievement, fostering self-esteem.
Most of my students have never had the experience of working in ceramics. The process of creating art from a wet lump of clay and seeing it go through the fire to become a "finished" work of art can be compelling. The transformation that occurs through the firing process and glazing will include a bit of chemistry and a lot of patience.
Students will use clay to create mythological animals after they have explored the ceramic building processes such as coil, pinch, and slab.
To have low-fire, white clay, and a variety of glazes will make this experience one they will remember. They will also be able to take their work home after it has been displayed at school.
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