From art cart to state-of-the-art, I have taught art in a variety of different settings and situations. This new school marks the 4th primary art room I have set-up as an art educator. Through blood, sweat, tears, and lots of spilled paint, I have learned how to adapt spaces, big and small, into functioning art rooms. In all of the art rooms I have designed and decorated, my focus is always on function, organization, and accessibility of supplies, and providing dynamic, inspiring and interesting visuals for students to use as inspiration.
While I was student teaching at Hillcrest Primary in Perth, Austrailia, I used an art cart to travel to each classroom and facilitate art lessons. Not having a water source, limited the materials and art projects I could facilitate so I started to look for other areas in and around the school where I could host art lessons. The abandoned one room school house on the grounds of the school had not been used for years yet boasted ample storage space, large tables, stools, and SINKS! After dusting off the cobwebs, organizing materials, and hanging artwork on the wall, the school now had an Art Hut!
The art room at the International Montessori School (IMS) of Hong Kong Tin Hau campus was my first official art room as an art educator. Although it was small, had two small sinks and limited storage space, it was mine and I loved it! The art room had been neglected and was very much a dumping ground for anything that was art related including scraps of just about everything. As soon as I moved in, I painstakingly went through every box, shelf, and cupboard to assess what I had and what I was working with. I spent two wonderful years in the Tin Hau art room before packing all of it up and moving it to the new IMS Stanley campus.
When I moved to the IMS Sanely campus, I was taking over for another art teacher, therefore, I needed to combine two art rooms worth of materials into one room. With a larger space and more storage, I was able to effectively organize and house all of the materials needs as well as create different areas within the room like the Lounge, Tech Hub, and the Sketchbook Cubbies. Sadly, I only had one year in this amazing space but this big bright room will always have a special place in my heart.
My new school, Hong Kong International School (HKIS), has a new, state of the art lower primary campus. With a cohort of 800 students in pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade, there are two full-time art teachers teaching in two identical art rooms. After unpacking and organizing the contents of 185 boxes, the HKIS art rooms are ready for young learners.
In addition to this amazing space for students, the art room also has amenities just for the teachers. From an adult sink and storage area to an office that connects the two identical art rooms together, this space was thoughtfully designed for the specific needs of both teachers and students.
I am so grateful to the staff and students at each school who have shared each art room to make art, take risks, think outside the box, problem-solve creatively, learn and grow through artistic behaviors and use the space as a safe house for silliness. Whatever art room I occupy now and in the future, each school, each student, and each story will be taken with me. Rooms are just walls, albeit beautiful walls, it is what happens within these walls that define the space.