Click here for the District's current e-newsletter.
Faint rubbing of pencil on paper and soft murmurs are the sounds of poets at work. Each student in Jocelyn Lividini's fourth grade class at Increase Miller Elementary is writing a poem inspired by art seen at a recent Katonah Museum of Art (KMA) show: OBJECT OUT LOUD: Works by Arman and Nick Cave.
This is just one facet of Thinking Through the Arts, a KMA program that teaches critical thinking, close observation, analysis, and creative response through poem and art-making. The project culminates with student readings and an art exhibition.
Pam Hart, the writer-in-residence at KMA, shares her writing process with each class individually. She calls it Poetry Moves—a series of strategies designed to help writing look, sound and flow like poetry. Tips include repeating words, using similes, and finding the rhythm in the writing.
“Read your draft. Find the best, most powerful lines. Underline them and add “Poetry Moves,” said Hart.
She visits each table in the classroom answering questions, reading drafts, and encouraging young writers.
“I don’t know where to start,” said one student.
“All writers struggle with this,” said Hart. “What I do is make a pretend start. Start somewhere. You can always change it.”
Another student is writing a poem about a piece by Arman titled Demi-Cuivres, created in 1973. It's actually sliced trumpets embedded in concrete in a box. He shares his work with Hart.
Trumpets traveled to the best jazz clubs
Played by the best musicians now in the dirt
I used to be beautiful but I’m not anymore
“I love this idea ‘I used to be beautiful,’” said Hart. “That’s a big idea! Keep going!”
“I’m seeing wonderful poems,” Hart said to the class. “But reaching the bottom of the page doesn’t mean that you are done! Keep creating details. Write about how you feel. Turn and say something to the artwork. Put yourself inside the artwork. What’s that like?"
In the coming months, students will create a piece of visual art with Spencer Eldridge, the art teacher at Increase Miller, in response to the show they saw at KMA.
“We will look at both Arman and Nick Cave’s bodies of work. Then, the grade will decide which artist to focus on. Each student will create a reflective piece,” said Eldridge. “Their job as artists is to communicate an idea. A poem is no different than a painting. It is the same process. You study. You are reflective. You use tools.”
Fourth graders at Katonah Elementary School have completed their poems with Pam Hart. For the visual component, led by art teacher Christine Eckler, groups of students worked together and made Nick Cave-inspired Sound Suits and found-object instruments informed by the artist Arman. They will present their poems and artworks at the KMA.
Later this year, Mr. Eldridge will take fifth grade classes to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. The students will experience the current exhibit and a one-day immersive workshop with art-educators that combines art, research, and engineering.