Inspiring Community Building Through Art

Article Posted: Monday, February 01, 2021

Sherry Norton Graham, Principal at Gibson-Neill Memorial Elementary School, was inspired to bring storybooks to life and the school community together through a school-wide art project.

Each class contributed one collaborative art piece representing their collective creative interpretation of a particular thematic or artistic element of a storybook of their own choosing.

A total of 40 collaborations are now on display, transforming Gibson-Neill into an art gallery.

The young artists imagined and designed their projects based on stories that ranged from happy to hopeful, written in both French and English. Students who shared their thoughts on the projects said they “felt proud”, that “everyone was helping” and that “even though some classes used the same book, all were different looking.”

“Every year we are very involved with the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and we are not able to work with them this year. This collaborative art project was a great way to bring a gallery to our school,” said Principal Norton Graham.

To be mindful of social distancing, teachers have been rotating their classes through the school, taking them on gallery walks to view and discuss another class’s work. Prior to each gallery walk the teachers are reading the picture book the other class used for their inspiration.

Some classes have written letters to another class telling them what they liked about their artwork and others set up virtual discussions through Microsoft Teams, allowing students to interact and ask questions online. “It is exciting to see the students building their skills as both consumers and creators of art.” said Principal Norton Graham.

Discussions evoked important conversations on how to better understand and process emotions, a topic particularly relevant to young people as they navigate Covid-19. This school-wide project brought students, teachers, and classes together through the power of art and words, providing inspiration and a sense of community at a time at a time when it was needed most.

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