A Different Dimension

By Missie Madsen
Art Teacher

Everyone knows that art is important in creating a well-rounded adult. Students need to experience a variety of medias, artists, and artworks, be allowed to express themselves creatively, and even take a class that soothes the soul. Middle School is the time that is most critical. This is the time when many students are no longer required to take art or it doesn’t fit into their schedule, so it is forgotten. This is the typical time for most to no longer consider themselves artists. A few go on to continue in the fine arts, but this age is a critical juncture.

The fine arts are extremely important and beneficial for middle school students. Art at any age allows students to be creative and innovative. Art enhances critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students’ communication and collaboration skills improve and their confidence can grow through teacher and/or peer assessments.

Here at Canterbury, our Middle School students are extremely fortunate. A 3D Art Projects class is not offered at other schools. Three-dimensional work is incorporated into regular art class. Students are not only given the opportunity to explore three-dimensional projects. Our 3D Art Projects class gives those students that enjoy art, but do not feel they are the best at drawing, a different way to express themselves creatively. The 3D Art Projects classes allow the students to create a variety of sculptures and three-dimensional pieces using a variety of media, such as clay, cardboard, paper, wire, and papier mâché. In these classes, the students have to problem solve ways to create their projects. Students are not always given the answer; they are asked to and allowed to explore options. One of the unique qualities of the 3D Art Projects class, compared to other schools, is the fact that projects are seldom repeated. Every semester brings about a new crop of projects, challenges, and creations.

Personally, my favorite medium to use in this class is clay. It’s forgiving, it’s trying, it’s messy, it’s relaxing! It is so exciting to see what the students create with building directions and a hunk of clay. And the look on their faces when they receive their final glazed pieces is priceless!

One of my favorite moments is opening the kiln after a glaze firing. To me it is like Christmas morning, you never know what you are going to get when you open the lid. I just know that it is going to be colorful and beautiful, and it is going to make a student very happy and proud.