Before you begin
Before setting up your display, take a moment and ask yourself some important questions, such as Who is this display for? What is the purpose of this display? Where should my pupils’ work be showcased? When will I find time to set it up? How can this display provide meaningful learning experiences?
- Celebrate the artist, not just the artwork – Get pupils to create their own artistic signature. Share signatures of famous artists including Pablo Picasso, Diego Velazquez and Vincent Van Gogh. Explain that famous artists write their signature in a way that people can read and recognize it easily. Pablo Picasso wrote only his last name, Vincent Van Gogh wrote only his first name and Diego Velazquez wrote both names. Get students to sign their own artwork before it is displayed.
- Creating a creative display – Cut a long sheet of continuous paper and hang it on the wall. Decorate the border if you have time. Think about your audience and hang the paper near eye level. Then mount the artwork on the paper with tape or glue. You may like to frame each piece of artwork and then arrange them in rows or columns or staggered around the continuous paper for a more creative affect. Try to be consistent with the space between the artworks (about 2 to 3 centimetres). Symmetrical designs are also very eye-catching. Make sure to begin by arranging the artworks from the centre outwards, instead of from one side to the other as this will ensure a more balanced display. Don’t forget to label each piece of artwork with the pupil’s name. When it is time for the display to come down, you can simply cut the continuous paper, leaving a centimetre frame around each artwork, to be taken home.
- Show and teach – Each display should include a title and some information about the artworks. For example, imagine a self-portrait art project. Each portrait is made up of a variety of fruit and vegetable shapes for the different parts of the face. So the title for this display could be, You Are What You Eat or Healthy Food for a Healthy Life. It is also important to include an informational label on the display that includes the name of the artwork and artist that inspired the project. A short phrase describing the objective or focus of the lesson should be clearly stated. For this project the label could look like this:
Inspired by Vertumnus, Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
Students from 1A
can use lines and shapes to show the different textures
of fruit and vegetables.
You can also add important vocabulary and questions to provide opportunities for students to have meaningful interactions with the artworks. For example:
Limited space – be creative
In a bilingual classroom, it is common that two (or more) teachers share the same classroom and therefore need to divide the space for displays. This can mean that there isn’t sufficient wall space for your art projects.
- Art in the air – Install eye screws or metal hooks in strategic positions on all four walls of your classroom. String a piece of fishing wire, yarn or string between the hooks. You may choose to string the wire in straight lines across the length and width of the room or make a zigzag line. The height of the wire should be out of reach of your tallest student. Then simply hang your students’ artwork along the wire with clothes pegs. If your wire runs along the centre of the room you can display artwork back to back saving even more space.
- Window art – Artwork made from transparent materials (eg clear contact paper, tissue paper and cellophane) are perfect for displaying on windows. Make sure you use double-sided clear tape so that the artwork looks as nice on the outside as it does on the inside.
- Class Art book – You can organize and display pupil artwork in a class book. To create a book that doesn’t leave holes in your pupils’ art, use a large binder and slip the artworks into clear plastic covers. In this way, pupils can flip through their book carefully without touching each other’s artwork. It is important that the cover of the book includes information about the artwork and artist that inspired the art project and the focus of the lesson. Class books can be displayed on a shelf in the classroom, a special place in the school library or on a table in the waiting area of the front office for visitors to flip through.
- Standing sculptures – Finding space to display sculptures can sometimes be a bit difficult depending on their size. It is important to create a space where the sculptures will not be bumped into or knocked over. One safe place is putting a large table (or combining extra desks) in a corner of the classroom. Pupil sculptures can be carefully placed (or taped) on the table. You can also cover box tops and boxes with continuous paper and place them upside-down on the back of the table so that the sculptures at the back are also clearly visible. Information about the project can be placed on the wall behind the sculptures or on a sheet of paper hanging from the edge of the table.
Think outside the classroom
Class artwork does not need to remain inside the classroom. It can be displayed in a variety of places around the school for all to enjoy and be inspired.
- On the way to class- Long corridors and staircases are excellent places to display art. Students pass through the corridors several times a day and can visit the artwork on their way to and from their classroom.
- Strategic placement – Themed art projects can be strategically placed in specific areas of the school. Artwork that focuses on food such as a still life (or the previously mentioned fruit and vegetable portraits) can be displayed in the dining room. Projects that focus on the body and movement can be displayed inside the gymnasium or around the exit to the playground. Self-portraits can be displayed around the classroom door with a title that invites your pupils inside. Festival projects can be displayed in the main entrance to welcome in the holiday season and celebrate as a community.
Creating displays can be fun and exciting. But it can also be very time consuming. You do not need to display every art project your class completes. You can choose one each term to display. You can also allow pupils to choose their favourite artwork from each term and have a variety of different artworks on display. Invite your students to participate in the process.
- Little helping hands – With younger students, you can create a display that can be constantly changing. Simply hang a sheet of construction paper for each of your pupils on a wall. Write the pupil’s name on the paper and add two paper clips (or small clothes pins) at the top of the construction paper. Once the pupil completes an artwork, they can simply slip it under the paperclips to showcase their work. Older work can be taken down and new work displayed in seconds.
- Working together – With older pupils, you can teach the process of setting up displays during your Art class. It can be a very educational experience. Pupils will learn a variety of skills including planning, measuring, making decisions and working in a group. Divide the class into groups of four to six and provide each group with a sheet of continuous paper. Instruct each group to display their work in a creative way, writing their own title and sharing the information that they think is important.
Integrating Art across the curriculum
Art displays can be interactive and informative as well as decorative. Many of the topics taught in Art class can be integrated across the curriculum. Art projects about animals, plants, the body and landscapes can be used in Science. Artwork that shows lines, shapes and patterns can be used during Maths. Some projects can be used in other Fine Art classes including Music, Theatre or Dance.
- Pupils can display their artwork by sorting or classifying their work based on a specific theme (eg animal groups, types of angles, body movements, etc.).
- Students can label, describe or compare their artworks with vocabulary and information they are learning in their different classes.
Now you are ready to get started. Remember, a little effort on your part can bring great rewards to your pupils and the school community. Your displays can promote imagination and creativity, inspire young artists and teach English and other subject content. Most importantly you will be demonstrating not only the talents and skills of your students but also the value of Art in our world.