Physical Space

Why You Should Have a Gallery Wall of Current Artists and Art Teachers

classroom gallery wall

Think of some of your favorite artists. Now, think of some artists you love who are currently working in the field of art. Did any of the artist names overlap? Are any of your favorite artists also art teachers?

There no rule that your list of favorite artists can only include people who worked hundreds of years ago. Nonetheless, maybe it’s time to update your list. It’s time to bring art from your favorite contemporary artists and educators into your classroom!

Finding Current Working Artists

If you’re anything like me, you’re already following along with contemporary artists and dynamic art teachers on social media. This can be a great way to discover new artistic voices. Showing your support through pins, likes, and hearts is great, but consider what it would be like to actually have artwork that brings you joy in your classroom every day.

Get Started with Your Classroom Gallery Wall

classroom gallery wall

Creating a classroom gallery wall is easy if you know where to start. Plus, it may not cost you a penny to acquire your first works if you’re also a practicing artist.

The first step is to envision an area in your art room or creative space that needs love. Is there a corner of your room that is often ignored?

Next, start small and support small businesses.

Here are 6 ways to acquire art for your space.

classroom gallery wall

1. Art Teacher Swaps

Ask to trade with an art teacher buddy of yours or participate in an Art Teacher Swap! This option is great because it’s almost free.

If you’re interested in pursuing this option, check out Whitney Ehnert (@mumsart on Instagram). She is the organizer of Art Teacher Swap. She encourages interested art teachers to fill out a form she created if they would like to trade art with another art teacher. Usually, the art teachers are paired with someone they haven’t met before. Then, the partnered art teachers create original pieces of art for each other! Here’s what Whitney has to say about the experience.

“I strongly feel that sharing our love of art with one another is a huge part of what helps us grow as artists and educators. In turn, it allows us to practice what we preach when encouraging our students to find inspiration in other makers and their talents. Art educators give so much of themselves to their students on a daily basis that it’s more important than ever to check back in with ourselves and create something on our own that’s unrelated to a lesson. Connecting with other teachers through social media helps that bond strengthen, and it’s a great way to show the positive effects of social media.”

How cool is that?! Follow along with Whitney if you want to participate in the next Art Teacher Swap!

2. Online Shops

Purchase prints or original art directly from an artist’s website or Etsy shop. At our elementary art show this year, each grade level was inspired by a current working Instagram artist. I added many of the inspirational artworks from these artists to our gallery wall for reference!

3. Local Storefronts

With so many passionate business owners seeking out handmade items and local artists, check out a shop near you that carries these specialty items.

classroom gallery wall

4. Artist Marketplace Events

Lots of artists and makers sell their goods at pop-ups with other talented artists. Make an event of it, and start your gallery wall collection while shopping at a local marketplace!

5. Your Own Student Artists

Order some of your own student art from online fundraisers like Artsonia or frame up a few of those very special drawings from your aspiring artists!

6. Family Heirlooms

This is a great way to be reminded of the people you love. Find a few items from your family you can include on your gallery wall. I have a cross stitch from my grandma I jazzed up with a brightly painted frame!

Once you have a few pieces, you can start to hang your gallery wall. Command strips, wire and clothespins, and frames are all display ideas to try.

students looking at classroom gallery wall

6. Benefits of Having a Classroom Gallery Wall

  1. It will get students talking more about art in your classroom.
  2. It helps show students art teachers can be artists, too.
  3. It exposes students to a greater variety of styles and mediums.
  4. It helps remind students about the possibility of art as a career.
  5. It allows you to easily rotate art to keep things fresh or to match current projects.
  6. It will bring joy to you and your students in your home away from home!

So there you have it! Surrounding yourself with things you love will truly change your day-to-day experience in your room.

Do you currently have a gallery wall at home or at school?

What other benefits might there be of an art swap with other art teachers?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Sarah Krajewski

Sarah Krajewski, an elementary school art educator, is AOEU’s Social Media Content Creator and a former AOEU Writer.

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