Shaker High School combined two celebrations and rolled them into one on Thursday, Oct. 20, when the English Department and the Art Department held a joint event that displayed art created by students based off of text they had read.
The month of October is “The Big Draw,” a festival for the Campaign for Drawing, which the North Colonie Central School District is a part of, and on Thursday it coincided with the National Day on Writing. Beth Bonville, supervisor of the English Department, and Anne Manzella, supervisor of the Art Department, decided to collaborate and combine the two by tapping into their students’ creative sides.
A series of workshops were held where the students produced several pieces of art. Workshops like Advertising in the Film Industry had students trying to create movie posters with an image of the front of the school.
“They are given stars and cast they can use and they can do a romance or action,” said Bonville. “They were given a couple of little things but then had to create their own movie by creating a movie poster.”
Some of the other workshops were called Fantasy Character Creation, Humorous Writing: Even If You’re Not Funny, Poetry Cut Up and Signed, Sealed and Delivered. There was also Life In Lyrics, which allowed students to take some of their favorite lyrics of a song, mix it in with their own writing and then produce a drawing based off of the lyrics.
Bonville said doing this type of collaboration is quite natural, as both art and English are considered fine arts. She also said that most of the time when a person is reading a book, a poem or even reading through lyrics, an image can appear in their head.
“There are photographs or images we get in our minds when reading a novel or a short story,” Bonville said. “I think it is a perfect marriage of the two. We were picturing mixing the pieces from Ann’s department and the National Day on Writing. We’re trying to bring the two together.”
Manzella said the act of drawing a Venn diagram to compare and contrast written pieces allows students to visualize, analyze and interpret, which she said helps in relating to the writing portion. It was a nice opportunity to combine the two worlds of creative thinking, Manzella said, and show they are flip-flopping the idea of using a visual to spark the inspiration to write.
“There are so many applications of the written word and the imagery it conjures up and getting at the mood and the tone that you want the outcome to have whether it is electronic media or painted media,” Manzella said.
The students were not graded on their works, Bonville said, which allowed them to have more freedom in being creative. She said the pressure to create something that grades well was taken away, which allowed students to get comfortable with what they were working on.
“I think the kids really, really liked it,” Bonville said. “They could really tap into their creativity and feel more loose and free. I think it is important to do both (graded and non-graded assignments).”
Manzella said they would love to expand the celebration next year and said she would love to use it as a planning objective at the end of the year for teachers to work on. She even said she would love to see teachers in both departments working together to improve the event.
“It sort of came about as a happy circumstance this year with both departments having a celebration this month,” Manzella said. “If it’s something we can kind of join forces on at the end of next year, to use as a programming objective for our departments, to do some planning over the summer and start the year with definite course work in both areas where we can even merge instead of existing kind of parallel… that would be great.”