The Importance of Art

When you open the doors that take you into KAS, take a moment and enjoy the art that adorns the main hallway of our school. It is an ever changing beauty of creativity on display bringing out the best of our students by our fantastic art teacher Ms. Stephanie. 

Stephanie began her education with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the prestigious Parsons the New School for Design, where she majored in Graphic Design and minored in Photography and Fashion Design. She continued her education while working as the in-house graphic designer for a world-wide engineering firm and earned a Master of Science in Information Design and Technology from the State University of New York Institute of Technology.

Stephanie’s philosophy on art education perfectly aligns with KAS. All minds are creative and Stephanie’s goal is to bring out the creative-thinking in a process-based approach. It is important to Stephanie that her students use their own ideas without a specific end goal in order to meet the requirements of a project. Process-based art allows children to develop their fine-motor skills and sensory exploration without the confinement of a specific goal by enjoying the creative process. 

Arts in education provides so much more than a creative outlet. Through art, students develop confidence and learn how to look at the world through a different perspective. Art is a healthy outlet for overall well being and managing stress. Art gives students a voice when they can’t find the words to express themselves. Art also teaches students patience, perseverance, and appreciation. It can be a powerful tool for expression. 

Studies have shown that when art is missing from the curriculum students suffer. Creativity and critical thinking can be delayed, not to mention behavior issues can arise with no creative outlet, and students without an art education tend to have lower standardized tests scores. Even if you think you have no artistic talent, there is always some form of art to express yourself. Art education encompasses so much at KAS. It does not only happen in the Art room at KAS under the guidance of Ms. Stephanie, but it is integrated by each educator at KAS throughout each classroom, and also through Ms. Rachel’s Music classes.

The next time you walk into the Art room, never underestimate Ms. Stephanie’s process. There is always a constant flurry of activity. Students are exploring, creating, learning, and experimenting through various forms of art. As with every classroom, Stephanie makes adjustments to meet the needs of her students.

Recently, while studying the artist, Keith Harring, students in kindergarten traced their bodies, first and second grade cut and created mini figures while both classes designed their people in the style of Keith Harring. The older grade levels worked on recreating an art piece of Keith Harring’s that spoke to them. 

When tasked with a memorial project for the 5th commemoration of the horrific attacks at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh to remember the loss of 11 special souls in our community, students at Kentucky Avenue Middle School conducted research on Jewish customs, specifically the ritual of leaving stones at a loved one’s grave.  Students learned about each of the 11 victims from the Tree of Life tragedy and chose one special person to design and paint a stone in their memory.  

Students collected large stones within our neighborhood to signify the sense of community but also the individual presence that is missing – versus purchasing uniform stones at a store. The act of leaving a small stone on a Jewish grave is to signify that someone they cared for was visited, mourned for, respected, supported and honored.  In Hebrew, the word for pebble means “bond” and students felt the meaning was significant and special.

Stephanie, being an artist herself, knows the importance of art in the community and the power of art to connect people. Back in October, KAS Middle School students volunteered as student ambassadors for the October 27 Commemoration Ceremony for the Tree of Life Synagogue held in Schenley Park.

Stephanie is an avid volunteer for her children’s school, where she serves on the Leadership Board as well as the Western Pennsylvania Bleeding Disorders Foundation, where she serves on the Board of Directors. If you are looking for a fun family volunteer activity, Stephanie is organizing a volunteer opportunity at KAS to help raise awareness for bleeding disorders through the Western Pennsylvania Bleeding Disorders Foundation on Sunday, February 25th from 10 AM – Noon. For more information or to sign up for volunteering, please email info@wpbdf.org or call the WPBDF office 724-741-6160 by Monday, February 19th. You can also contact Stephanie at Stephanie.shropshire@kentuckkyavenueschool.org.

Using various techniques and studying an array of famous artists, while seeking opportunities for KAS students to be involved in the community, Stephanie is instilling an appreciation for art and highlighting the importance of art in everyday life.

To read more about the importance of art education, click on the link below.


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