(October 5th, 2018–Jersey City, NJ) The Explore Middle School students spent their first “field trip week” visiting The Bridge Art Gallery in Bayonne as a pivotal part of the preparation for their thematic unit project.
Each marking period at Explore, students focus on a thematic unit. At the end of each marking period, the students complete a cross-curricular, culminating project that demonstrates the students’ understandings, thoughts, and opinions on the unit. “Human Rights” is the first marking period theme and the students will create an art gallery for their culminating project. They visited the Bridge Art Gallery to learn more about the operation of a gallery and seek inspiration from the featured artists.
Currently, the Bridge Art Gallery is showcasing Collective Spirit created by Grace Kisa. The collection of sculptures was made using clay and reusable materials. 8th grader Myles Morales was especially interested in Kisa’s sculptures featuring cigar boxes. “Inside of each cigar box was the face of a person popping out. Each face’s features were made using recycled materials like strainers and coils. She consistently included the color blue and birds painted blue to represent wisdom.”
The faces created by Kisa also stood out to 6th grader Lauryn Egar. “I really liked how the art popped out. The faces popped right out of the cigar boxes. I was inspired by this and using it with my group for our gallery project. We have speakers, flags, and cartoon characters popping out.”
Lauryn’s classmate, Melieke Kunukcu, was also energized by Grace Kisa’s creativity. “I thought it was really cool that she used everyday materials like straws and cigarette boxes. We will be using plastic bottles in our art for the gallery.”
After touring the inside of the Bridge Art Gallery, the students went on a walking tour to see the murals created throughout the streets of Bayonne. “Along the streets are utility boxes that different artists have painted. One that stuck out the most to me was an aquarium-themed box. It featured cartoon characters that live under the sea like Dory, SpongeBob, and Sebastian. I thought this was really creative and cool,” Anton Yakoup explained.
Though many students walked away from the trip with ideas and inspiration for the Explore gallery, others gained a greater understanding of art. “Everyone’s an artist,” was the very first thing Kymani Febo stated after being asked about the trip. “Art isn’t just painting on a canvas or sculpting. Art can be anything and it doesn’t have to be perfect. At first, the faces in the cigar boxes were not appealing to me. But after some time I realized art is not about being perfect.”
Fellow 6th grader, Felix Puig Seppalainen, agreed with Febo. “I learned to be less critical about other people’s art and about mine. Art is individual and I have to understand and accept it even if it’s not my style. And I shouldn’t compare my art to others. I can draw and I feel more confident about my art now,” he said while working on his sculpture for the upcoming gallery.
Cheryl Mack, owner of the Bridge Art Gallery, was very impressed with the students and hopes to team up with Explore in the future to create a mural for the community. To learn
more about the Bridge Art Gallery and Grace Kisa’s work, go to www.bridgeartgallery.net.
The “Human Rights” art gallery will be open at Explore Middle School on Thursday, November 15th, 2018.