As spring flowers begin to bloom, the KAM gardens emerge as a colorful oasis on the south end of campus. But on Friday April 24, the tranquility of this scene was momentarily interrupted as students participating in the final Krannert Art Museum—Week at the Museum (KAM–WAM) program of the school year streamed down the museum steps in colorful masks, performing a choreographed dance to the song “Everything is Awesome!” from The Lego Movie.
Everything was indeed awesome as these third graders from Robeson Elementary School in Champaign and fourth graders from Thomas Paine Elementary School in Urbana showed off their culminating project from a week spent at Krannert Art Museum. The museum’s KAM-WAM programs are wrapping up their fourth year, but this latest week was the first time that the museum hosted two different schools simultaneously. Teachers and students collaborated across districts in this exciting partnership.
Partnership in Planning
Prior to the students’ arrival, teachers met with KAM educators for a professional development day where they envisioned a wide variety of ways to allow students to respond to the museum’s artwork. They capitalized on each other’s strengths. Because Robeson does not have a dance program, Thomas Paine’s dance teacher, Angela Wyatt was able to provide the Champaign students with a unique opportunity to choreograph and perform an original dance.
In turn Robeson brought a veteran team of teachers who have a long history of partnering with the museum. Mary Anne Jusko, Randy Bost, and Amy Johnson all used their knowledge of the museum and its collection to lead lessons inspired by the art currently on display. Even 4th grade teacher Brianna LaPlant and student teacher Megan McGurgan, both new to the program, jumped in enthusiastically throughout the planning process and the week itself.
A Peek at the Week
On Monday, students were divided into four groups where the two schools were intermixed. After a whirlwind tour of the museum’s galleries, each group focused in on one artwork in the permanent collection to inspire their masks and their dances.
As the week progressed, the students responding to one of our Greek earthenware pieces depicting the myth of Herakles transformed their masks into armor or mythical beasts. Their dance moves showed scenes of battle as they froze in poses mimicking the figures on the artwork.
Another group of students focused on two of our temporary exhibitions—With the Grain: Japanese Woodblock Prints of the Postwar Years and Artists Including Me: William Wegman. They responded to these exhibitions by creating their own prints using styrofoam and watercolor. They also made collaborative postcard murals.
Creativity on Display
As a part of every KAM–WAM, the museum "exhibits" student work. The results of this unique creative partnership between students in Urbana and Champaign are currently on display in the KAM–WAM classroom on the museum’s lower level. The KAM–WAM student exhibition opened on Monday, April 27 at a reception that welcomed more than a hundred students and their families. It was great to see and hear the students share their week of creativity. In fact, it wasn't just great; it was awesome!
Authors: Kamila Glowacki and Heather Harris