Wayne Hills Art Class Will Do A Journaling Project to Celebrate Black History Month

Wayne Hills Art Class Will Do A Journaling Project to Celebrate Black History Month

By Sophia Kim, Staff Writer

We have started a new month and are now in February. For some, this is exciting. February is the month of love, the month of Valentine’s Day. For others, it’s dreadful because February marks the end of the second marking period and the start of the third marking period.

For others, February is a month dedicated to the cultural awareness and celebration of people of African-American descent. That’s right. The month we are in right now is Black History Month.

As part of the Wayne Township Schools district’s goal for including diversity, equality, and inclusivity in education, many teachers have tried to find ways to create a more tolerant atmosphere. One of these teachers is Gabriela Peller, who is an art teacher at Wayne Hills High School.

Around the end of January, Peller introduced a new project to her Visual Foundations and Design and Composition classes: a visual journaling project that centers around the research of any artist of African descent.

What is visual journaling? Well, visual journaling is a relatively new part of the art curriculum at Hills. When Collegeboard recently updated the scoring rubrics for AP Studio Art portfolios, they included an emphasis on the process of creating art. Teachers use visual journaling as a planning guide or a creative brainstorming activity where students can experiment with small ideas before they move on to the big canvas.

However, visual journaling can stand as art on its own: it can be used to express one’s emotions, or creatively display research on different artists, techniques, and pieces.

Peller asked each of her students to pick any artist of African descent that they felt a personal connection to, and create a two-page spread in their sketchbook. She allowed them to chose whatever media they wanted– pencil, watercolor, marker– and express their ideas and learn as they create their pieces.

“[The project allows us to] go beyond just [learning about] the old master painters like Leonardo Da Vinci or Van Gogh,” Peller claims.  “We can now focus on artists in all backgrounds.”

Kaitlyn Cooper, a student in Peller’s Design and Composition class states, “I’m so glad we’re taking the time to honor different cultures through our art.”

Peller also says that this project will raise awareness and help students to realize that despite racial differences, people are all the same.

“The students get something out of it and find something that [they’re] able to connect to with,” she says passionately. “The artist that [they] choose [helps them to] realize that even though [these artists] may have a different color skin or different experiences than us, they’re still human like everyone else and are expressing their thoughts and feelings through art like we do.”