The art programs at EF Academy New York are a place where individuals can cultivate their creative ideas and express themselves through all kinds of artistic mediums. Whether it is through photography, painting, songwriting, or music, artistic expression is valued and nurtured throughout the school. In the IB Art courses, students work for two consecutive years to build up their technical skills and creativity. These young artists have the chance to learn and practice many different mediums, all while encouraging imagination. By the end of the two year course, seniors are prepared to fulfill their final course requirements by creating and exhibiting a series of artworks surrounding one theme. This project is the culmination of hours and hours of hard work, their final presentation of the ideas they have been developing throughout their artistic careers.
Creating and exhibiting artwork
This year’s Senior IB Art Exhibition featured the works of 28 students. Each of these students has been working hard all year to prepare their artworks and their curatorial explanations. Not only did they have to prepare the pieces themselves, but they also had to write explanatory exposés to help viewers understand their themes. On Monday, many classes came to see the pieces and hear the art students discuss the themes and rationales behind their works. Giving the students the opportunity to discuss their artwork with other students and faculty allowed them to really explain the embodiment of their ideas through each artwork. It was fascinating to hear each student’s different approaches and processes to this reflective project. Using a multitude of mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture and installation, each exhibition expressed an important sentiment or idea.
Many of the themes students chose were extremely powerful. Often, they used the trials, tribulations, and experiences of their own lives to shape their art. Using colors and shapes, paint and ink, fabrics and clay, these students expressed their emotions about their lives, their futures, and the world. They addressed topics such as representation, feminism, inequality and oppression. Several of the pieces portrayed challenges that many students struggle with, like mental health, family strife, and personal identity. It is a scary thing, to put so much of yourself into a piece of art and then show it to the world. These students should be proud of their bravery and their willingness to express themselves in such a raw, real way.
Teaching creativity and problem-solving through art
Creativity is a skill that is becoming increasingly important in our changing world. Students who have the ability to approach challenges with ideas that are innovative and fresh will be more prepared for an unpredictable future. Teaching creativity, however, can be a challenge. Jessica Eddis, the IB Art teacher at EF Academy New York has an approach to creativity that sets students up with the tools they need to build and make anything they dream up. Of her teaching process, Eddis says “first, you introduce the technical skills, exposing students to all different forms of art-making, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, even digital arts.”
After students have mastered these skills, they move into the more meaningful, thematic side of artistic production. Then, they have the opportunity to challenge the rules, experiment with new ideas, and figure out how they want to express themselves through art. Eddis explains that “once they get comfortable with a variety of mediums, they can further explore both content and context, digging deeper into meaning. Being able to experiment with forms, themes, and messages really helps students to learn problem-solving, because they have to think critically about what they’re trying to say through they’re art. They have to recognize that if the colors or mediums they use aren’t conveying the message they want to communicate, they have to come up with a different solution and try another way.”
Of course, Eddis concludes, creativity can be nurtured in a variety of subjects and contexts. “But with art,” she says, “creativity is really the common thread, the overarching umbrella of it all.” Art is such a perfect context to foster imaginative ideas because it lacks the rigid duality of right and wrong. Instead, it is a space where individuals can be bold, brave, expressive. It is a way for them to express anything, to bring their ideas to life, and to share their talents with the world.