Sometimes the best ideas come out of challenging circumstances. The high school where I teach is about 5,000 years old. It’s comprised of three buildings and at least twenty “mobile learning units.”
It has no good place to display art, so our art department has had to get creative to show art where it’s seen and appreciated.
Here are a few of our best ideas made by the students at Apex High:
1. Make your courtyard count.
Our most important public space is our school’s courtyard. It’s a place almost everyone walks through on the way to class, plus it’s where many kids hang out during lunch. Since the courtyard is an important part of our school’s culture, it’s the perfect place to make art. The fact that this space is open air has challenged us to think outside the box. We can’t display traditional works on paper here, but it’s the perfect place to show off public works like chalk murals, painted sculptures, and yarn bombing. Plus, the benches in the area make perfect canvases.
2. Take over the walls.
Walls in schools are never in short supply, so we’ve found ways to use them for public, collaborative projects. Tape murals are a fun and temporary way to transform a space. They work indoors or outside and the possibilities are almost endless. Large-scale paper is also a fun, temporary medium for wall art. More traditional murals are great too, especially for advanced students looking for a challenge.
3. Go street art style.
When we think of street art, spray painted graffiti is typically the image that comes to mind, but street artists work in a wide variety of materials. Wheatpaste is a favorite of many artists because it allows for quick posting of images that have been created in advance. It’s technically removable with warm water but sturdy enough to allow art to withstand the elements on an outside wall. Stencils are another street art inspired method. Permanent stencil work can be created using spray paint or other types of paint. Also, stencils can be used to create temporary art with materials like flour. Or, skip working 2-D entirely and screenprint t-shirts to display wherever they’re worn.
4. Embrace technology.
Who even needs a physical space? You can reach a huge audience by showing your student’s art on social media. Twitter and Instagram are both extremely popular and it’s easy to set up a profile on either site. However, it’s a good idea to create a school account instead of using a personal one. That way you can interact with students and not worry about your personal life mixing in.
From street art to social media, there are tons of great ways to display work that skip the bulletin board. Look around your campus and find spaces that you and your students can use to create!
How do you use the space around your school to display art?
Share your ideas in the comments below!
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