Students learn about Michelangelo |

Students learn about Michelangelo

by Teri Vance

When Kathy Bakst asked her second-grade class on Thursday who Michelangelo was, they responded that he was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

However, parent volunteer, Sherrie Mims led the class in a discussion of the Italian Renaissance painter Friday and set up a copy-cat art project where students painted while lying on their backs as Michelangelo did to paint the Sistine Chapel.

“I don’t think they’ll forget Michelangelo now,” Bakst said.

Mims is part of a program at Fritsch Elementary School in which a volunteer chooses one Friday of every month to give a presentation on a famous artist. In addition to the presentation, Mims prepares an art project which copies the style of the featured artist.

“I’ve always been interested in art, so I was more than happy to do it,” Mims said. “We’re having a great time.”

After giving a brief history of the life of Michelangelo, Mims passed out small plaques made of plaster so the children could paint frescoes, a technique used by Michelangelo to paint on wet plaster so that the paint is absorbed into the plaster itself.

“I’m going to paint a flower,” said Celina Fecanin, 8. “No, wait, a Pikachu.”

She painted a flower.

Blake Plattsmier, 8, said he wanted to paint a Picasso-like painting on his. The class studied Picasso earlier this year.

As they were painting their frescoes, small groups were called to one of two tables which had paper taped to the underside. The students crawled underneath, lay on their backs and painted.

“It was cool,” Plattsmier said. “You’re under there and it’s like you’re painting in the air.”

Mims warned them to be careful to not use so much paint that it dripped on their faces.

Still, students crawled out with dabs of paint speckled across their foreheads and globs of paint in their hair.

“I like art days because we get to get all messy,” Fecanin said.

Before starting the project, students put an old shirt over their clothes.

Paula Davies, team teacher with Bakst, said she thinks the program has been successful.

She said earlier that morning the class went to the library and many students checked out books about different artists.

“The kids have really been inspired,” she said. “They’re getting a lot out of it.”

Bakst, who received her degree in art education, said the program has many benefits.

“It’s important for their emotional and social development,” she said. “It helps them have an appreciation for the arts.”

Art is also understood in all languages.

Spanish-speaking student Magali Sanchez said she did not understand the presentation in English, but she liked doing the art project.

“Me gusta pintar (I like to paint),” she said.

The students also enjoy art Fridays.

“I love this class because of all the art projects,” said 7-year-old Christopher Wortman.