See how ASD-W art education prepares students to understand and appreciate art, as well as use art to enhance learning in other subject areas.
ASD-W Visual Art Lead Lucinda Mills works on a fiddlehead-themed collagraph art project with students at Garden Creek School.

Create. Connect. Communicate.

“That’s the foundation of our curriculum,” said Beth Christie, ASD-W Subject Coordinator for Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Enrichment. “Kids may grow up to be artists [or] they may grow up to practice it for leisure, but they will 100% be consuming it throughout their entire lives.”

A collagraph of a fiddlehead made by a Garden Creek School student.
A collagraph of a fiddlehead made by a Garden Creek School student.

ASD-W art education prides itself on teaching students many ways to create art, while also connecting their creativity to other subjects they will learn in school and in life.

“I think anytime students are working with visual arts, it’s giving them an opportunity to think outside the box to come up with solutions to problems that maybe they wouldn’t have thought of before,” said ASD-W Visual Art Lead Lucinda Mills.

Mills spent two days at Garden Creek School last week giving students a hands-on introduction to printmaking. And the subject of that printmaking? That perennial Maritime perennial, the fiddlehead.

ASD-W Subject Coordinator for Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Enrichment Beth Christie.

Students learned the importance of the fiddlehead in Wabanaki art, particularly the representation of the plant next to a mirror image of itself, known as a double-curve motif. Mills showed the students examples of Wabanaki fiddlehead art while encouraging them to think of other items in nature with a similar shape.

After the background tutorial, students drew, coloured, and cut out their fiddlehead shapes to create a collagraph, a relief print made with materials of different textures.

“They’re experimenting with new materials,” Mills said. “They’re learning that it’s ok to make mistakes and that mistakes help us learn and improve and grow, and I think that will help them in all of their subjects.”

“It was messy but really, really fun,” said Ava, a Grade 4 student. “We were learning about art, but we also learned about First Nations too.”

According to Christie, art education is part of a holistic education for the entire child that benefits all school subject areas, “so if we’re in science class and the child needs to be observing the world around them, close looking is an important component of the visual arts curriculum.”

“Also, if you look at perspective and scale, that’s mathematics but it’s also art,” she said. “Art compliments and interweaves with all the subject areas to make it more rich, more full, to make [students] look at outcomes in more depth.”

Children in art classes also use their art skills to more fully express themselves while developing their vocabulary, she said.

And while the solid art education district students receive helps them in other subject areas, Christie is adamant that art education is not just a means to an academic end.

“Art is just important for the sake of art,” she said. “It’s a joyful part of school.”

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