Preschool art show provides lesson in art history, education

The art on display in Grove City College’s Pew Fine Arts Center Gallery through April 22 represents a lot more than just the budding talents of a few dozen 3 to 5-year-olds who attend preschool classes on campus.

The colorful paintings, construction paper collages, paper-plate canvases, and xerox and crayon self-portraits displayed in the 3rd annual Artist Showcase from the Early Education Center evoke centuries of art history.

Hanging throughout the gallery are homages to a dozen famed artists, including children’s book author and painter Eric Carle, fiber artist Bisa Butler, cubist pioneer Pablo Picasso, pop-art progenitor Andy Warhol, action painter Jackson Pollack, and animation impresario Walt Disney.

Each of these mini masterpieces (at least in the eyes of moms and dads) is the culmination not just of the fleeting minutes of a pre-school art lesson, but of hours of thought and work by students in Assistant Professor of Education Natalie D. Heisey’s class on the use of art in the classroom.

The preservice teachers developed two part lessons on each of the artists emulated by the EEC students, Heisey said. First, they introduced the children to the artists, their work, and the styles and media they are known for. Then, they led the youngsters through an art project based on the artist’s style.

The aim of Heisey’s class is to teach future teachers how to appreciate and use art in their classrooms. That includes understanding child development, what lessons are developmentally appropriate, the elements of art, and the importance of explicit instruction and modeling in their teaching.

“This partnership with the EEC brings it all together,” Heisey said.

Jolene K. Munson, EEC director and assistant professor of Education, said the preschoolers love the lesson.

“They enjoy the ability to try any new methods and materials,” she said. The kids didn’t have a clear favorite among the cannon of creators they were exposed to, but, Munson said, “I know that any of the artwork that uses faces – especially their own – usually brings them the most entertainment.”

The show in the Gallery also represents “a great intersection between departments, College students, and the campus community’s youngest members,” according to Director of College Archives and Galleries Hilary Walczak ’09.

And while Gallery visitors will be delighted by the work on display, the biggest fans of the show might be the artists themselves. “Seeing their art in a gallery is a great experience for our youngest Grovers,” Walczak said.

Preschool art show provides lesson in art history, education

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