Students discover art in everyday life

CNJ staff photo: Lili Castillo Tiarah Light, 11, looks at her close up photograph of a tulip on the wall in the front lobby of the Arts Academy at Bella Vista. Light said she enjoyed taking the close up because she could see all the details of the flower.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

The assignment was simple: Find something that is naturally occurring and take a photograph of it.

So 21 members of Lisa Julian’s fifth-grade class at The Arts Academy at Bella Vista ventured into the neighborhood around the school armed with digital cameras and their imaginations.

“It brought about a realization for my kids,” Julian said. “Clovis has a lot of beauty and a lot of kids in the area don’t see it. While we were out, I heard the kids say ‘I didn’t know there was green grass in Clovis’ or ‘I didn’t know there were flowers in Clovis’. Things look different through the lens of a camera.”

The lesson, which included studying the works of legendary nature photographer Ansel Adams, was designed to fill a state visual arts standard that calls for students to create an original piece of art using technology. Julian said she chose to study Adams because it’s important for her students to study an artist in their century, from their country, taking care of their planet.

One of Julian’s students, Tiarah Light, said the assignment inspired her to be photographer when she grows up.

“It was really interesting to know that our school is beautiful from the outside,” the 11-year-old said, as she explained the interesting shadows a broken tree splayed on the ground.

Julian said that even though much of the project focused on the art, it also encompassed economics and community improvement. Through the class’ nature conservancy studies, the students created an improvement project for the school. They created a plan to put a fountain in the front of the school with flowers around it. The class also put together calendars of their photography to sell for a play the class is performing.

Fourteen of the students’ black and white photographs were framed and hung in the front hall of the school, and have drawn more attention than most of the other displays in the hallway, according to Principal Shelly Norris.

Norris also said the multi-faceted assignment is a perfect example of what the school is all about.

“It takes a real life situation and pulled it into the classroom in an art lesson,” Norris said. “It is as much about the process as it is about the final product.”

Norris said studying nature conservancy is important for children everywhere.

“It’s one of the biggest lessons kids should be learning,” she said. “It’s good for them to realize that this (issue) continues on and it will be their job next.”