Hey all! We’ve had a blast this semester creating and giving workshops to the kids at Matthews Elementary and, as of recently, the internet. We, the students wanted to do a wrap up and share our thoughts on our Community Arts class and the importance of art in schools.

We first started our class with a discussion on art. What is art? Why is art? What do we gain from making and/or consuming it? We got to see a lot of different perspectives from our classmates and professor, and we started to brainstorm a bit on our workshops we planned to give at Matthews Elementary.

One of the things that a lot of us enjoyed was testing the workshops. We went through the steps of each step the week before we were slated to give it, so we would be able to rehearse and see if there were any potential issues we might have.

The first workshop we gave was about face jugs, a workshop led by our professor, Dr. Galbraith. We sat and listened as she told us about the history of face jugs and engaged us with the same questions she might ask the kids. It was exciting, and we were even more excited to create our own jugs after watching her demonstration. Pictured above are a couple of the jugs we created. One student even volunteered to help our professor glaze all of the jugs from the students at Matthews after the clay was dried and fired. This was no small task as there were probably 80+ jugs in total.

The effort put into this workshop paid off though. We saw kids sharing ideas with one another and showing off their creations. When we brought the finished jugs back a few weeks later, a student spied them sitting in the hallway and broke into a happy dance. It was a great feeling to see all of the kids at Matthews so excited to receive their pieces. We were able to dole them out after our zentangle workshop, which was also an interesting experience. Some of the classrooms were full of quiet and meditative students, while others were fun of noise and laughter as students worked on their pieces and shared ideas with one another. It quickly became one of the favorite workshops that we had the opportunity to give.

After this, we were encouraged and excited to continue on. The next workshop we held was about paper airplanes. We showed the students step-by-step how to fold two different airplane designs, and we got to talk a little bit about the science of flight. We had a lot of opportunities to work with the kids one-on-one if they had difficulties folding their planes correctly. After each student had a completed plane, we gave them markers to decorate and personalize their planes before they entered into a classroom contest. It was exciting to see them compete and have fun flying their planes. A few weeks later we gave the same workshop to students at Woodlawn Middle School, which was a different experience altogether, but it was still a blast! Little did we know that it was our last workshop with one another before universities and schools across the country switched to online learning.

After the switch, we were understandably upset about the workshops we couldn’t give to the students we’d been working with at Matthews. We were sad to see some of our work go to waste, so it was decided that we would post our remaining workshop instructions to this blog. If you haven’t seen, there are a few new workshops with instructions uploaded to the site, so scroll and look through them to find one you might like. You can find a workshop on building robots out of recycled materials from Avery, how to make a collage from materials in your home from Ariana, and how to create abstract art from Sarah. We also might have one more focused on dances through the decades coming, so stay tuned for that!

We hope that you all are staying safe and healthy during this uncertain time, and we hope that you will be able to enjoy these workshops and share them with your friends. We would love to see your creations, so reach out on our Facebook page, Tuscaloosa ARTS. Maybe we’ll share some of them here too!