As an art teacher, art show season is usually a combination of adrenaline, excitement, late nights, hard work, exhaustion, and pride. Whether you’ve never hosted an art show or you have had 650 art shows, one of the most important things to remember is that you do not need to do it alone.
Your art club students are eager to help make your art show a roaring success.
You simply need to help lead them. Don’t have an art club? No problem! Just ask for interested student volunteers. Think of the students in your class who are always looking for jobs to help out in the art room—those kids are your ticket.
How you set up your art show will determine what kinds of stations you have your art club kids run. Years ago, when I first started having a large school-wide art show, I was the only person who would sit at the entrance table, handing out scavenger hunt paper and pencils, encouraging visitors to walk around and participate. At the time, I felt like I needed to be the smiling face at the main entrance. I soon realized that all the jobs I was doing during the actual art show event meant way more when done by students.
Want more tips and tricks? Check out Art Ed PRO.
Slowly, I transitioned from offering one interactive station like the scavenger hunt to offering many more. Of course, all of these activities were all led by our art club members. Our students took an incredible amount of pride in having a job for the art show and collectively being in charge of its success.
Pro tip: If your art club members create art club t-shirts, have all the members wear their matching shirts during the art show to make them easy to identify for visitors! Check out these 5 easy ways to make art club t-shirts!
Here are just some of the stations your art club can run during your art show:
1. Scavenger Hunt Workers
Check out how to try an art scavenger hunt with your students here. Art show scavenger hunts encourage visitors to see each exhibit while turning the adventure into an interactive game.
2. Blacklight “Bouncers”
Try adding a blacklight gallery to your art show or check out this PRO Learning Pack about how to get started with blacklight art here. Art club members love helping to monitor the gallery by being “bouncers” and tying a neon ribbon or stamping the wrists of all visitors entering the gallery. These bouncers are especially helpful if there is an interactive component to your display—like decorating the table.
3. Art Show Welcomers
What better way to start the art show experience than to have art club members welcome visitors, holding the door open for them with a smile? You may even want to have art club members hand out free positive kid-made bookmarks for interested visitors.
4. Collaborative Artmaking Checkers
Set up space where art show visitors can create a collaborative piece of artwork at the show. The art club members can help explain the station and monitor the respectful use of materials.
5. Snack Patrol
Consider offering bake sale items or snacks during your art show. Art club members can help pass out treats and keep the area clean.
6. Make-n-Take Helpers
Visitors love attending an event and having activities to do. Have art club members help people make-n-take a simple small piece of art to take with them.
7. Fundraiser Friends
This station is a great place to bring more attention to your fundraiser offerings at school. If you participate in art fundraisers such as Artsonia, Artomé, Art to Remember, or another online fundraising art program, this is a great time to have stations set up for visitors to check out and purchase items.
8. Gallery Docents
Have specific art club members lead guided tours through the art show. You can equip them with a script, guided questions, and activities for group participation.
9. Tech Gurus
Art club members who are particularly tech-savvy can be in charge of making sure everything is running smoothly during the art show. For example, if you have a slideshow or video showing throughout the art show, these students can ensure that your tech is always on point.
10. Mini Marketplace Members
Why not ask artists from your local community to sell their creations during your art show. Since there is a great flow of foot traffic, it is a perfect way to bring business to local artisans. Art club members will love helping with the setup and tear-down of the marketplace. Art club members can also sell small handmade items like magnets, card sets, and keychains to fundraise for your art department.
11. Face Painters
Choose some trustworthy art club members to work at the face-painting station for your art show. If you have a theme for your show, create a “flash” sheet of designs for attendees to choose from.
12. Photo Booth Operators
Create a photo opportunity for visitors to pose and share pictures on social media. Your art club members can take photos for guests, as well as encourage people to visit the “booth.” You can also create themed props with your art club members before the art show.
Try these Helpful Hints:
- Write out a sheet for each station listing the station setup, during show responsibilities, and cleanup. That way, you simply need to hand the art club members the job directions and materials and send them on their way. This will save you from running around explaining tasks to all your students.
- If you have a large group of art club members, have students rotate jobs, so only a few students are working each station at a time. With almost eighty students in our art club this year, we split art club members into three groups of Red, Yellow, and Blue. Since our art show is always three hours long, each art club group will be in charge of a job for an hour, then they can hang out and enjoy the art show. This schedule is perfect for us, but as always, you need to find what works best for you!
- If you have worked on any large scale collaborative projects for your school during the school year, amp it up and do a large ribbon cutting, where art club members and students can celebrate their hard work.
There are so many ways to have your students be a part of your school-wide art event. Give them that opportunity to shine, and they will make it amazing. The best part of having your students run the show is that you don’t need to! You can finally walk around and enjoy the excited faces while you interact with your accomplished artists during the entire art event.
Do your students have jobs for the art show?
What do you find to be the most successful addition to an art show?
How can you utilize more students to bring ownership to the art show?
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.