Concepts of abstract art are not typically part of the curriculum of an elementary school art program. But they were this year at Mar Vista Elementary School, as abstract art, printmaking and silhouette works were spotlighted in the school’s third annual art showcase.

“I’m so proud to be part of a school that has made a home for students to express themselves creatively in a meaningful way,” says visual arts instructor Ryan Miceli. “For the past three years this program has grown in sophistication, diversity and inter-curricular connections.”

Melanie Rhalter, a documentary filmmaker who has worked in art museums, was also impressed with the artworks that the students created.

“They show a rich diversity of a child’s mind,” said Rhalter, a parent at the school and a board member of the Museum Educators of Southern California.

Much of what is being taught is at somewhat of an advanced level, said Miceli. “I’m teaching these kids things that they will not learn until high school or college,” the art instructor said.

Students of all grade levels at the K-5 school had their creations displayed in the pop-up museum.

Fifth graders worked with expressionist art concepts and charcoal drawings in their projects, as well as landscape paintings and sculptures.

All students were taught the rules and processes of art as they relate to their grade level, but at the same time there was a certain amount of flexibility to account for the students’ creativity, Miceli said.

Fourth grader Hunter Hayfield expressed what Rhalter and Miceli say many of the students have told them over the last year, regarding how they feel about their art classes.

“It is important to have art class because if we don’t, we wouldn’t learn new things or learn about new people,” the student wrote.

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