Art Teacher Talk

Mixed Media Art: Fostering Community

In the vibrant world of art education, fostering a sense of community among students is paramount. Beyond the strokes of a brush or the lines of a pencil, lies an opportunity to cultivate collaboration, camaraderie, and connection. One innovative way to achieve this is through the power of a community mixed media art project that harbors the unique experiences and shared memories of every student in the art classroom.

Scrapbooking at its base is just plain fun. As a classwide endeavor it becomes not only a means of artistic expression but also a vehicle for reflection, celebration, and bonding among students. Through the creation of scrapbook pages, students are invited to embark on a journey of self-discovery, creativity, and community building. The scrapbook is a visual representation of the bond between every student in the room.

In my Intro and Intermediate-level classes we create a Mixed Media Art Family Album at the beginning of each semester. Students create their own pages based on a series of written prompts. Each page goes into one hardback book. This becomes our Family Album – a visual representation of who we are as a community of creators. It’s a fan favorite every year, and students enjoy being a part of the collaboration.

In my Advanced Level Art Class, the scrapbook takes on a whole new meaning. More details on that artistic collaboration later in this post.

Setting the Stage: Establishing a Creative Haven

At all skill levels, it’s essential to set the stage for a safe, nurturing and inspiring learning environment. The art classroom should serve as a sanctuary where students feel empowered to express themselves authentically, take creative risks, and support one another’s artistic endeavors. This mutual respect, openness and collaboration lays the foundation for meaningful interactions and shared experiences among students. When everyone feels like they belong, the results are fabulous.

When introducing the Mixed Media Art Family Album project, the “rules” involved in page creation are wide open – with the exception of using acrylic paint. We discovered the hard way that acrylic paint often makes the page too thick and bulky, and if not completely dry, can cause the book pages to stick together and tear. As a result, we only use watercolor or gouache for the Family Album Project.

Scrapbook Pages from the Mixed Media Art Family Album Project with rainbows and colorful cartoons this project is by Tiffany Fox of MrsTFox Resources Art Curriculum

Reflection and Celebration: The Heart of the Scrapbook

At the heart of the scrapbooking experience lies the art of storytelling. Every student in the room has a unique story, worthy of being told. Scrapbook pages serve as visual narratives, weaving together moments of joy, growth, and exploration within the art classroom. Through a combination of images, artwork, and personal reflections, students have the opportunity to document their artistic journey and celebrate their achievements along the way.

To embark on their creative odyssey, students are provided with a blank canvas in the form of a hardback book page (Mixed Media Art) or a scrapbook page (Advanced AP Art). Media choice is wide open. Composition is also 100% student choice. As they immerse themselves in the scrapbooking process, they are encouraged to reflect on their favorite moments, challenges, and breakthroughs in the art classroom. From conquering a difficult technique to collaborating on a group project, every experience is worthy of celebration and commemoration.

These visual autobiographies become repositories of memories, capturing the essence of the art classroom and the unique journey of each student. Through the process, students articulate the significance of their classroom experience, the lessons learned, and the growth experienced throughout the creative process. These personal narratives add depth and meaning to the class as a whole.

Two Page layout from the Mixed Media Art Project titled Family Album. This collaborative art project is by Tiffany Fox of MrsTFox Resources Art Curriculum. Each student creates a two page spread as their visual autobiography.

Sharing and Reflection: Bringing Scrapbook Pages to Life

In my Advanced AP Studio Art Class, the students complete a collaborative scrapbook – usually (between 8×8 and 12×12 inches) – at the end of the semester. College Board Portfolio submission is the first week of May. Once we are over that monumental hurdle, we have about three weeks before the end of the year. This is plenty of time to create a scrapbook page filled with memories from our year together.
While scrapbooking is often perceived as a solitary pursuit, in this case it has the power to foster collaboration and connection among this group of students who have shared the AP Studio Art journey.

As they work on their pages, students are encouraged to share ideas, techniques, and feedback with their peers. They have the opportunity to collaborate and brainstorm their creativity, as well as share their last weeks in high school with camaraderie and encouragement.

Once the scrapbook pages are complete, we hold an end of year party with open dialogue covering the year’s events. This is their opportunity to provide me with feedback. I have learned so much about effective teaching from these discussions. It’s also a wonderful way to give students the opportunity to share their creativity and their experiences with their peers. AP Art is a marathon of hard work and sleepless nights. These students have truly shared a journey and that journey brings cohesion.

Scrapbook pages from Tiffany Fox's AP Art and Design Class. This is a collaborative class project where students each create a scrapbook page that reflects their year spent in AP Art. This is a mixed media art project designed by Tiffany Fox of MrsTFox Resources Art Curriculum

Conclusion: The Legacy of Community in the Art Classroom

In the art classroom, community is more than a concept. It’s a living, breathing entity that enriches the educational experience and shapes the artistic journey of every student. Through the creation of the Family Album book and the AP Art scrapbook pages, students not only document their experiences but also forge connections, celebrate achievements, and leave behind a legacy of creativity and camaraderie for generations to come.

As educators, we have the privilege and responsibility to cultivate a sense of community in the art classroom, empowering students to express themselves authentically, collaborate fearlessly, and celebrate their unique voices. In addition to individual scrapbook pages, collaborative projects offer students the opportunity to work together to create shared narratives that reflect the collective experience of the art classroom.

In the end, it’s not just about the pages we create. It’s about the stories we share, the memories we cherish, and the bonds we forge along the way. Together, we create not only art but also a sense of belonging, unity, and inspiration that transcends the confines of the classroom. That lasts a lifetime.

Time is a thief. Even after 12 years, I can go back and revisit these scrapbooks and remember our experience together as if it was yesterday.

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Have a wonderful and safe year and Happy Teaching!

Tiff 🙂

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