What is an artist?

September 2020

Hello friends,

Welcome to Art at PFS, a blog where I will feature the work of the young artists at Princeton Friends School. For those who I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting my name is Dylan Fruh and I am the art teacher at PFS, a multimedia artist, and an outdoor enthusiast. I believe learning in the arts is most visible in the process a student takes to create a piece of art. I hope that this blog will provide a window into the goings-on in art class and provide insight into the students' growth as artistic thinkers.

As we settle into new and changing routines I have decided to begin the year by zooming out and asking students to reflect on the question "What is an artist?" This apparently simple question has led to some big conversations in art classes across all grades. "What is an artist?" leads to other big questions like "What is art?", "What do artists look like?", and "Who gets to be an artist?" These questions will serve as a guides throughout the year to help us to challenge stereotypes and preconceptions as each student works towards finding their own way of being an artist. During their first art class I asked students to create a variety of visuals including self portraits, illustrated words associate with artists, and written answers to the question "What is an artist?". These responses will become part of a school-wide collage on the art room bulletin board providing an image of the multitude of ways that the PFS community thinks about artists.

In addition to thinking about what it means to be an artist third though eighth graders spent their first class creating and personalizing their own process books, a special type of sketchbook that the students will use to record goals, ideas, challenges, decisions, and more as they reflect on their artistic process. These process books will serve as a key tool to help students to reflect on their own thinking and decision making, as well as help me assess critical and creative thinking skills.

Beginning schoolers engaged in their own artistic exploration by experimenting with ways to make a painting without a paintbrush. The little artists used household items like popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, and cotton swabs to stretch beyond "typical" ways on making a painting, and invented their own ways of making marks.

In the coming weeks each grade level will begin 2-D art projects centering around how artists tell stories and convey meaning with their artwork. Check back in October for updates on each project.