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  • Writer's pictureRobin Murphy

Artist Statements for Young Artists

Every year in May we have our big yearly Art Show. Since I teach K-12, I get the pleasure of hanging TWO shows in TWO DAYS. That would easily be enough to make me lose my mind if I didn't have a few systems in place to manage the workload. More on that later...

One super important detail to my Art Shows that I've been adding over recent years are Artist Statements. I think it's incredibly important for students to be able to express the What, Why, and How of their work and be able to share that with viewers, even if the viewers are just family members! This is a much easier task for my 9-12th grade students. Typically we spend a day talking about artist statements and I share this resource from The Art of Ed to help students plan out their writing. Once completed, I ask students to share their written statements with me as an assignment on Google Classroom, then I copy/paste them to a Google Site and create QR codes to be hung alongside their artwork that direct back to their artist statement page on the Google Site. This has worked really well so far, but it's a little bit of extra work on my part. Thankfully, I have small classes and it hasn't been too bad.

Elementary students, however, are a different story when it comes to getting them to write about their art. They'll happily talk about it all day, but I've found that they need a little bit of scaffolding to write a good artist statement. For my K-5 kids, I hand them a fill-in-the-blank style worksheet to complete as their artist statement. We work through it together after they choose the artwork they'd like to write about. I like to collect work in a portfolio all year long and allow my students to choose their top 2 or 3 favorite works to hang up for the art show, so every student ends up picking something different.

My favorite thing about this worksheet is the materials section. My youngest artists (1st-2nd) are given a second sheet with clip art of various supplies they may have used and are asked to color in the ones they used then cut and glue them to the materials section of their artist statement. My older artists (3rd-5th) are given the option of doing the same, or drawing and listing the materials themselves.

So far, this system has worked really well for us and I love hanging their statements next to their chosen artwork! Parents and grandparents attending the show now have a little extra info and something to use to start a conversation about their student's artwork, and hearing families excited and talking about student artwork is one of my main goals of the Art Show, besides celebrating our hard work all year.

If you'd like to try out the Artist Statement Worksheet with your classes, you can head to my TPT here to grab it! Happy Art Show season!!

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