Featuring 3 artworks from each of 190 elementary students - that's a whopping 570 artworks - of the American International School Dhaka (AISD), the Elementary School Art Show opened on May 8, 2023.
While observing the artworks, prominently on display at the school in Dhaka, one couldn't help but be amazed by the ingenuity, passion and use of several mediums by these very young, budding artists - some of whom may go on to achieve national and international acclaim.
A crucial factor behind that artistic journey is access to resources, encouragement from both parents and school, and platforms to showcase their works. All these elements seemed to be there for AISD students, as demonstrated through the exhibition and during conversation with the Elementary School Principal at AISD and the ES Art Teacher.
About the objective of the exhibition, preparation behind it, and display, the art teacher said: "So, this is the second art show that we've had that's been in the physical space. Each student had three pieces of artwork that were part of the show. They produced the artwork, making the general decisions about what's going to go in the show, and then as a curator, I made the final decisions based on space and placement."
"The artworks are placed on the wall, and then anything that is 3D was either placed on a stand or on a table. They're all arranged with the title of the artwork, the artist's name and then what media they used," the teacher said.
"We have classes, so there is not often a time when the parents get to see what the kids do in the art room, and they're working towards going into Middle School. Having a gallery or an exhibition is important as it makes them feel special. I mean, that's actually what happens with art - it goes into a gallery, so it's just giving that feel and making them feel that their artwork has value," the art teacher explained why the exhibition is important.
Regarding his involvement, the Elementary School Principal said, "As the principal, I oversee all the elementary programs but something that's really important to me, in any school that I'm a part of, is leading the younger division, the younger kids. I'm sure when we all think back to our younger years of education, reading, writing and math are considered the cornerstone disciplines. However, I think music, language learning, physical education, visual arts etc. are as important. We've been lucky enough to be able to invest resources - most of them human resources - into developing those to hopefully build a love for the disciplines early on."
"Often, children, who maybe struggle a little with their reading or struggle a little with math, make a connection in another way. It might be music, it might be singing, it might be the visual arts, it might be in sports. We've been lucky to develop a schedule to support those at a pretty good level; the kids go to art class, and music, and Bangla language... these are all equally weighted so that they can really explore all of those. Hopefully, we are building that passion where they're excited about taking up those subjects," the Principal elaborated.
Talking about features that stood out at this year's art show, the art teacher said, "It's always nice to add something unusual or make it more installation based. We have our insect installations at the back - it looks like they are giant insects, flowers and birds."
Walking through the exhibition, the big insects and mutant animals - one that's part rabbit and part butterfly, for example - certainly caught one's imagination. Tigers seemed to be a recurring subject, justified as it is the mascot of AISD. There were also works inspired by classics and cityscapes.
Most impressive, however, was the use of a range of mediums - from the usual drawing, sketching, painting to 3D art and even stitching. Honing their artistic skills, receiving encouragement, and most importantly, platforms to showcase their artwork will definitely contribute to developing these artists of tomorrow.
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