De Hirsh Margules, Mother Ann Lighthouse, Eastern Point, Gloucester, 1946. Gouache on paper. Gift of Jean M. Horblit, 2002. [Acc. #2002.004.002]
Wicked Local Gloucester, Jan. 15, by Greg Phipps – The Cape Ann Museum and area preschools decided to collaborate on an arts outreach program called Young at Art for students last year, and it’s paying dividends.
This was evident at the Gloucester Preschool this week, as young 3-to-5 year olds received an introduction into the art of sculpture.
Gloucester Preschool director Ann Marie Jordan, left, talks about the model clay projects Madeline Plumadore, 4, center, and Elizabeth Gentile, 5, right, created during a program with the Cape Ann Museum on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. The Cape Ann Museum provides a hands on learning program for students at the Gloucester Preschool. Wicked Local Staff Photo / David Sokol.
As one of her four scheduled week-long visits to the preschool this year, Liza Browning, the museum’s education assistant, said the goal is to make the art, history and culture of Cape Ann accessible and available to children and their families.
“We strive to give our young visitors a sense of place and we firmly believe that instilling a sense of pride in one’s community at a young age contributes to creating a stable foundation for a child,” Browning explained.
“It also creates a better community.”
Preschool teacher Samantha Blanchard, who has worked closely with Browning to bring the arts program to the school, said the visits have enriched the school’s arts education.
“We don’t have a specialist here at the preschool level so we looked into bringing in someone from the outside,” she said. “Liza does a different project every week she comes in to teach the kids. This week she’s showing them what sculpture is, what a sculpture can be made of, and she brought modeling clay so the kids could make their own sculptures.”
And how do such young children react to the classes?
“They get very excited. Having someone like Liza, who has expertise and is able to teach (art mediums) to children of this age level is so important because not everyone can do that,” said teacher Cristina Thomas. “Liza is able to communicate at the children’s level, and that makes it both fun and educational for the kids.”
Browning said the enthusiasm the children show during the classes has been one of the best assessments of the program.
“The students who take part in Young at Art show such pride in their knowledge of art and history. With the lesson on sculpture, they learn new vocabulary, examine images of (the museum’s) collection, and then have a direct hands-on experience creating their own masterpiece, which helps deepen understanding,” she said.
Blanchard said the children had such a great experience with Browning during her two visits last year that the school decided to book her for four appearances in 2014-15.
Preschool director Ann-Marie Jordan agreed that last year’s success prompted the school to continue Young at Art.
“We’re fortunate to have such a wealth of resources here in the Cape Ann area and we want to take advantage of that,” she pointed out. “We’re just enjoying the benefit of the reach out from the museum. Liza is doing classes on sculpture this week and she’ll be back in the spring to do another one on a different (art) subject.”
The enrichment is a two-way street, as Browning receives inspiration from the children as well.
“For me personally, I’ve loved being able to bring the museum to life for the students at such a young age,” she said. “I feel it’s important to introduce them to museums and get them excited about the art and history of their surroundings, especially at a museum like the Cape Ann Museum, where we’re focusing on the history of where these children live and go to school.”