A unique partnership has been in place between Cranston High School East and Edgewood Highland Elementary School (EHES) as the fourth-grade students at Edgewood have been learning about pop art.
“The students have been learning about pop art and the works of artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and about portraiture,” said EHES art teacher Ellen Laprocine. “I took pictures of the students and we have been working with Martha Russell’s students here at Cranston East. The students are now creating a clay portrait of themselves.”
Over a period of weeks, the students from EHES have traveled to CHSE for three sessions of art. The pictures taken by Laprocine were traced with a gel pen and flipped over onto a slab of clay prepped by the East students, in order to transfer the image, fire in the kiln in the CHES art room and then glaze. Once glazed, the pieces were fired a second time and would then be in a traveling display, which would be showcased in both schools.
“It’s been great to see the leadership qualities in the high school students,” Laprocine said. “They’ve really been taking them under their wing.”
The collaboration is the first of its kind and the art class at East is filled with advanced art and sculpture students ranging in age and grades. It was funded by a 'Spark Grant' through the Rhode Island Foundation, which provides third and fourth grade classes with funds of up to $1,000 to work on school projects.
According to Russell, the East students have gone above and beyond to prepare for the class sessions and to help troubleshoot problems that have popped up along the way, some even staying late into the evening one week to help prepare the clay slabs for the students’ arrival the next day.
The EHES students have also looked to the East students as mentors, and conversations could be heard throughout the room as the younger students painted and simultaneously questioned their older peers about high school topics such as bells between classes, scheduling classes, taking electives, going to college and learning trigonometry.
“It’s been a really great experience,” said Brennan Haid. “The kids are good and they work hard. They love coming here and it’s fun to work with them. There is a lot of preparation to be done before they come and a lot of cleanup after they leave, but I’d definitely do it again.”