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Grade 2: Learning To Find Beauty in Unordinary Places

Under the guidance of Graland art teacher Ms. Andréa Crane, Grade 2 students spent December studying the extraordinary work of Japanese artist Iori Tomita. Tomita is a former fisherman known in the art world for his work in preserving deceased organisms by turning them into beautiful works of art. His most famous exhibit, New World “Transparent Specimens,” can be seen here.
For Ms. Crane, teaching students to find beauty and art in unordinary places is one of the best parts of the job. “I enjoy introducing students to artists that are multifaceted and do not meet the norm of what you think an artist does,” Ms. Crane said. “I found this artist on a whim and thought it would be interesting to show his work because it was different and not what we would think to be ‘beautiful’ art. His work, in particular, is interesting because he is a taxidermist, and through his work, you see a lot of detail.” 

To emulate Tomita’s work, the Grade 2 students worked with dry pastels and beeswax crayons to create transparent-looking images of creatures from the sea. Throughout the lesson, the students developed new skills in blending and layering colors. They also, however, gained a new appreciation for an artist and art form they may have never otherwise discovered. 

“My favorite part about these projects is introducing the students to different artists and cultures,” Ms. Crane said. “An added joy is introducing students to different art mediums and broadening their scope on who we perceive as artists. When I introduced the students to Iori Tomita and his work, I heard lots of ‘oohs and ahhs,’ and several students said, ‘that is so cool!’”

Even though the fall semester has nearly come to a close, Ms. Crane is already looking forward to exploring new artists, skills, and materials with her students after winter break. Stay tuned for student projects made out of metal, clay, and even tree bark in 2022!

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.