Alice Carlson students learn about artists and produce their own projects

Third graders and college students alike braved the brief hailstorm to come out to the first Alice Carlson Artist Night.

Genifer Best, the Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center art teacher, worked with TCU adjunct art education professor Lauren Kolesar-Eatinger on the event. The two developed joint study between first year art education majors at TCU and third through fifth graders at Alice Carlson.

“It’s two levels of students learning the same material,” Best said. “We corresponded with a shared sketchbook. Our students would pass notes to TCU and they would share back with us.”

Both groups of students studied the same six artists for eight weeks, and then worked on projects for each artist.

Alice Carlson Artists

“Give them a little information and they dig in on it,” Best said of her students.

For example, Best introduces the artist Salvador Dali by telling the children about his supposed ability to channel aliens with his mustache. She considers this the best way to give context of the artist and spike an interest in learning about the material.

Alice Carlson third graders made brochures filled with fun facts about the artists (“Remember, they’re eight,” Best said.), banners to hang from the ceiling, and the artists’ “bodies.” Fourth and fifth graders worked on individual art projects inspired by the artists.

Best said she thinks that events like Artist Night teach children how to talk intelligently about art.

“It’s neat when they can go to a museum and talk about the art and what they think, not just recognize the part,” Best said. “We planned this event to share our knowledge with our families.”

Lillian Haslett attended Artist Night with her parents. Eight-year-old Haslett worked with her third grade class to create a banner for the artist Albrecht Durer.

“My favorite part was painting the background,” Lillian Haslett said. “I was excited to see how my poster turned out.”

Her graphic designer father and artist mother said they were excited to come out and see their daughter’s work.

“I really like the art history,” said Danny Haslett, Lillian’s father. “It’s good for the kids’ self-esteem for them to get some exposure.”

Lillian sat down to work with her friend Kathryn Pooler and snack on the food provided by the event.

Nine-year-old Pooler worked on the brochure for Albrecht Durer with her third grade class.

“I liked typing all of it, even though it was a lot of work,” Pooler said. “I came to see my friends and see what my brochure looks like.”

Working with the TCU students did more than inspire the elementary school children to create art — Best said it made her students want to attend TCU.

“All the kids here want to go to TCU,” Best said. “I had to ban creating TCU logos in class.”

TCU Students Teach

Lauren Kolesar-Eatinger has worked with Best in the past, but this was their first collaboration between elementary and college. Her TCU students provided the framework for Artist Night.

“We came up with a style of each artist and a five- to 10-minute activity for the kids to walk around and do,” Kolesar-Eatinger said. “I’m elated that 18 students came here and gave up their night to volunteer.”

She said she believes the program simultaneously improves both schools of art.

“Helping a friend make her program even stronger is great, and vice versa,” Kolesar-Eatinger said. “They opened their doors to us.”

One of her student volunteers, TCU junior Talor Garza, graduated from Alice Carlson. Garza said she was not planning on doing the elementary project, and then changed her mind when she heard about Alice Carlson’s involvement.

“I wanted to do this since I went here,” Garza said. “The same art teacher is still here. I hope to make it a fun event for the kids to remember.”

The Alice Carlson children came back from an art-filled weekend. Best said 15 kids worked a booth at the Main Street Arts Festival downtown, selling their mosaics. They completely sold out. The group was awarded a first place by festival judges.

As she finished her pizza and headed to start supervising the night’s events, Best said what her favorite part of the event would be: “Going to sleep,” she joked. “Really, I’m looking forward to tomorrow to hear what the kids and their parents thought about tonight. They were so excited today.”