GRALAND'S EARLY YEARS: CRAFT AND ART

The Permanent Art Collection, the Spring Art Show, and numerous other displays throughout the year are a reminder about our talented art teachers and the equally talented youngsters who love art almost as much as recess and lunch.

As Ruth Gorham reminded us in 1977, art (and in the earlier years, craft) has been an integral part of a child’s education at our school:

“Graland has always offered a rich and diverse program. Of course, in the early days of the school, art and craft projects were. . . (a). . . part of each day in the classroom. Margaret McKayTee came three times a week to teach and often worked with the teachers and students in the classes on special projects.

“Margaret Tee was known to Denverites as the interior decorator at the Polo Club. . . Here we knew (this painter) as Graland’s first art teacher (1927-1942). She was as unobtrusive as any teacher could be. Asked about her. . . style of teaching, she grinned. ‘I intend to be part of the materials, used as needed, like an easel or a brush.’ Quietly, she structured a situation for the discipline of skills, but she emancipated the children to explore their world. She showed what seemed to be an intuitive understanding of their inner world.

“As the school grew larger, it was necessary to centralize materials and facilities. Arts and crafts seemed inseparable, and in 1963 (with the help of our beloved crafts teacher, Barbara Nunn), Lynette Emery. . . was able to interweave the craft goals and projects into the Art Department curriculum.. .

“At first scheduled in what eventually became the Middle School science room in the Georgia Nelson building, art activities outgrew this space rapidly. With the building of the Foundation Center, art was able to move to the former dining room and kitchen, which gave the staff. . . far better facilities. The addition of two pottery wheels, a kiln, and courses in jewelry making and sculpture put a further premium on space for this department. After a temporary home in the basement of the Gates Building, art moved to new territory all its own in the basement of the Hamilton building in the fall of 1977.

“One of the finest attributes of Graland’s Art department has always been the close connection between regular classroom projects and art studies. For many years, for example, the third grade’s study of Africa began with a look at varying art forms produced by peoples of that continent. Students made elegant tie-dyed Nigerian robes, wove long strips of bright yarns on belt looms, and sculptured beautiful African animals of sculptor’s wax. . .

“Today, department chair David Steckelberg has expanded the influence of the arts still further with students creating massive sculptures for public areas around the campus, paintings for halls and offices, and excellent exhibits of all kinds of art. . . in corridors and cases.”
 
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Graland Country Day School

55 CLERMONT STREET    DENVER, CO 80220    303.399.0390   
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.