Art class teaches appreciation for diversity

March 04, 2020

Art mirrors society. For teacher candidates in the junior-intermediate program, their project reflects the provinces’ diverse classrooms.

Teacher candidates in the compulsory artist course created Modigliani-inspired portraits. Course instructors Carol Edy and Polly Stringle provided a course that gave them an appreciation of art as well as an understanding of the creative process and how it impacts all aspects of life.

“We wanted students to overcome their fear of art and do something personal,” said Stringle. “The results were remarkable.”

Most teacher candidates drew a self-portrait and when they presented them to the class, it led to a discussion about diversity.

Stringle said teacher candidates can bring diversity into their classrooms in a number of ways. First, they can make their students feel safe, honour them and stress every student can be creative regardless of their background. Second, inclusion is important because knowing – and learning about – their students’ backgrounds allows teachers to understand what their students bring to the classroom.

“Our country, our schools and our cultures are becoming more diverse each year and we are welcoming people from all kinds of backgrounds,” said Stringle. “We need to allow each student to have their own creative voice. It’s not the teacher’s voice. It’s the child’s voice.”

Another important lesson about diversity is understanding that art can be interpreted uniquely. Teacher candidate Helena Andrigo said a task can be completed in 50 different ways and each way has value and works for that person.

“No single interpretation is correct in art,” she said. “It's important to try new things and keep going even when you make mistakes or create something that you don't love.” 

Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He’s known for a modern style characterized by elongation of faces, necks and figures.

Andrigo enjoyed seeing everyone’s art and how Modigliani’s style was interpreted differently.

“It made me feel happy to look at the portraits and know that we all in some ways felt proud of the work that we produced,” said Andrigo. “They looked so good.”

After the project, Stringle made an individual card for each student, which included their portrait. She also made a class card that was comprised of everyone’s portrait.

“Our goal was for them to get excited and to see that every student can be an artist and take that back to their classroom,” said Stringle.