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There’s More Than Meets the Eye in this 2nd Grade Art Exhibit

Just before Thanksgiving break, first graders and faculty members were invited to an exhibit of second-grade art inspired by the work of Carmen Herrera (1915–2022), an abstract minimalist painter from Cuba. The students’ colorful, geometric compositions were bold and exciting, but the best part of the exhibit was the opportunity to interact with the artists themselves.

"Art begins in the studio and ends with a piece that goes beyond your original intentions; it becomes a vehicle to connect with new people and places." —Art Department Chair, Cindy Santos Bravo

Second-grade artists wore nametags saying, “Ask Me About My Art,” and Lower School Art Teacher Kali Haney encouraged the visitors to question students about their artistic process. Suggested conversation starters included How did you get your idea for this artwork? What parts of the process were most challenging? and What would you title this piece if it were your own?

Wall text provided more information about Carmen Herrera, an interview with one of the second-grade artists, and a challenge to find the piece named after Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. The more visitors explored, the more they discovered.

Ever think about how different kinds of lines in abstract art make you feel? The second-grade artists did. Curious about the process that the artists used to translate their straight-edge paper collages into paintings? Second graders had to carefully plan how they would lay down their drafting tape in order to achieve the hard-edged lines of their shapes. “I was impressed with the students' ability to articulate their creative process and how they faced the ensuing challenges of maintaining straight edges,” says Assistant Head for Curriculum Development María López.

Like any good gallery opening in the nation’s capital, there were refreshments to spur conversation and a buzz of excitement. Art Department Chair Cindy Santos Bravo says that the Maret community will be seeing more curated and interactive exhibits in the future.

“Students observing artwork made by fellow students and then experiencing the excitement of an opening or closing reception deepens our school’s mission to develop the mind, nurture curiosity, and build community. Curated practices bring the art curriculum full circle to broaden how we get to appreciate one another in community,” Ms. Bravo explains.

Be on the lookout for curated exhibits throughout the school in December and January. You will see more student work from every division, as well as documentation of the art-making process provided by teachers Bill Crandall and Tom Raneses and Upper School photography students.