Fourth-Graders create Dia de los Muertos Art for Library

Fourth-Graders create Dia de los Muertos Art for Library
Shawnee Mission School District

As they learned about art concepts and cultural heritage, a group of Oak Park-Carpenter students have been busy creating an exhibit for the Johnson County Library.

The fourth-grader’s artwork will help celebrate the Dia de Los Muertos in our community.

In class, the students were asked to create sugar skull animals as they studied the art standard of positive and negative space. It is an art concept that is similar to what is produced by X-ray technology, teacher Darcy Phillips said.

Beyond the art concept, the lesson also provides an important opportunity to help students gain a better understanding of the Mexican holiday, she said. In recent years, students have come to class increasingly familiar with the holiday because of the animated film “Coco,” but this project gives them a deeper understanding of the traditions and art related to the movie and holiday, Phillips noted.

 “I hope the students enjoy the self-expression that this (and every art project) allows,” Phillips noted. “I hope they learned something new, whether it is pride in their own culture or that our differences are interesting. Learning about our differences can be an incredible teacher and arts are such a great way to help students learn about culture in the classroom.”

Many students, including fourth-grader Phoebe Crespino, created artwork in memory of an animal they knew. Crespino used construction paper, glue, and oil pastels to create a Day of the Dead-inspired rendering of a horse named Rosie.

“I thought it was a challenge to make a shape of a horse,” Crespino said. “While I was working on it I thought about happy memories. It made me feel happy celebrating her and that we can remember.”

Porter True, fourth-grader, created a project in memory of his grandmother’s dog that died a couple of years ago, named Tony. “It’s pretty fun,” he said. “I love to get dirty with paint and I like that it reminds me of Tony.”

Soon, students will be sharing their work beyond their classroom. First, they shared their work with family members using the virtual art gallery Artsonia.

“They write a brief artist statement which is a great way to help students practice stating the objective of their work,” Phillips said. “It’s a great way to share conversation with families.”

The student artwork will be on display at the Central Resource Library branch of the Johnson County Library later this fall.