Mrs. Vecchioni's Art Room


Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
—Grandma Moses


There are so many exciting new projects in the art room this year! mcaExplore Mrs. Vecchioni’s website, stop in room 112B or next time you see me, ask me what’s going on—I love sharing the great things Waters School students are doing! Email me if you have any input, ideas or feedback—I look forward to hearing from you.


Please join us!

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

February 14, 2017


Kinetic Art Exhibit and Chinese New Year Parade!

Please come and celebrate the Year of the Golden Rooster with us!

Chicago Maker Faire: The Greatest Show on Earth!

McCormick Place, Chicago

April 22-23, 2017

Please join us as we LAUNCH our 2016/2017 STEAM projects and activities to the larger Chicago Maker community at McCormick Place. To find out more information about this fabulous event, please see

Make & Play Day 2: Cardboard Fun for the Whole Family!

April 29, 2017

9AM-12PM, Annex - Copy

Global Cardboard Challenge:

***Please bring cardboard, box cutters, scissors and any sort of tape (duct, masking, washi) that you may have around the house to our event! If you don’t have any cardboard etc.—just bring your imagination! All other materials will be provided:). Early registration is not mandatory. We will meet in the Annex at 9AM. Please Join Us! ***

To learn more about the Maker Movement and the inspiration for our Leonardo’s Workshop (Makerspace) in the art room, please see .

Leonardo’s Workshop Maker Camp Session 2: January 23-March 27, 2017

(No Camp on 2/20)

Leonardo’s Workshop Maker Camp Session 3: April 3-June 12, 2017

(No Camp on 4/10 & 5/29)

2nd Semester Annual Outsider Artist All-School Visual and Digital Arts Exhibit

June 2, 2017


Please join us!

More details coming soon:)…

Teacher Fellowship Program Student Exhibition

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

756 N Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL 60642

June 3-July 4, 2017

Please join us as Room 204 LAUNCHES their ephemeral Sauganash land art installations at the one of the premier galleries  for Outsider Art in the nation! We will pay homage to Emmer Sewell in our installations. For more about Intuit, For more about Emmer Sewell,

Any questions? Please email Mrs. Vecchioni at



HUGE thanks to the artists and volunteers that made 2016/2017 class projects, pop-up galleries, family art workshops, all-school exhibits and digital visual art portfolios for every student such a success! We couldn’t have done it without you! An additional tremendous thank you to all of the families that have donated to the art room’s recent Donor’s Choose proposals. Your generosity is truly appreciated. Please take a moment to check out student artworks (current and archived) at

Thank you for your support!

Mrs. Vecchioni

*Special thank yous to our 2016-2017 Visual Arts Team from Rooms 306 and 312 for your support as Art Buddies for our Kindergartners and 1st graders and helping prepare for our International Dot Day Exhibit, Make and Play Day’s Global Cardboard Challenge and the Chinese New Year celebration!*



2016/2017 LEONARDO’S WORKSHOP! Design Theory, Tinkering, LAUNCHing…

We look forward to creating our first designated Makerspace at our school and appreciate your commitment to making this possible.cartoon-leo


Special thanks to Education Closet ( for their financial support of this project and their pedagogical mentorship of S.T.E.A.M resources and curriculum. Additional special thanks to Liten C. who, instead of asking for birthday presents on her 6th birthday, asked her friends to donate to our Makerspace grant for the art room and to Tommy S. who donated all of his spring yard sale earnings to the visual art department. Such kindness and generosity are an inspiration to all of us.


Please see Ms. Smith’s recent Green Notes post for more about this exciting new adventure


healing classroomsThank you to everyone who participated in our Healing Classrooms Challenge! We added our handmade, original pinwheels to the hundreds of others being created by Students Rebuild teams around the nation. Our efforts have raised $252.00 for children in Syria that have been displaced due to war and unsafe living conditions in their homeland. In addition, our Art In Action activity created new 126 pinwheel toys for children to play with! We will continue our partnership with Students Rebuild in 2017. We will announce our next challenge soon!

2015/2016 CHOICE-BASED STUDIOS & THE ARTWORK OF GAYLEEN AIKEN: Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Artists Teacher Fellowship Proposal

20160525_113033-1_resizedintuit1Ms. Zelle and I began this project as professional exploration of creating more choice-based opportunities for student learning and as a way for students to make art with limited adult guidance/influence/interference—aiming to provide an artistic environment similar self-taught artists’ freedom to create…


We feel so fortunate to have been awarded an Intuit Fellowship for the 2015/2016 school year because it was a great way to collaborate with passionate educators around the District, learn about new educational theory, see new art on teacher field trips (:)) and —best of all—our students were able to exhibit their artworks in a real art museum in Chicago for an authentic audience!


5th grade students in Room 308 worked in choice-based studios throughout the project in order to make independent creative decisions as artists. Choice-based studios provided diverse students the freedom to determine the best fit for their learning styles, interests and ability levels. Students chose their own media and methods to create at least one narrative self portrait using an art-making method beloved by Gayleen Aiken—comics, scrapbooking/collage, narrative painting and /or 3D cardboard construction. Students chose their brainstorming method to begin their artwork and evaluated their own artwork. These choice-based opportunities demonstrated the investigative processes found in artistic experience and all meaningful learning.


More choice-based projects and opportunities (and authentic audience experiences) are planned for the upcoming school year. To learn more about choice-based art education and Teaching For Artistic Behavior (TAB), please see



Our 2015 Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (C.A.P.E.) La Peña en La Floresta mosaic camp was a huge success! Over seventy-five artists of all ages came together to create an amazing new public art installation for the main entrance to our school!


The original organic tile and mirrored rendering was inspired by our garden ecology curriculum, 1st graders’ native leaf sketches and mosaic campers’ prairie flower illustrations. In addition to our new main entrance, we created sculptural towers that are installed in our nearby monarch butterfly garden. Both public art installations pay homage to outsider artist Simon Rodia’s Nuestro Pueblo. (Nuestro Pueblo is also known as Watts Towers.) We are hopeful that these collaborative artworks will celebrate the creative spirit of our Waters School community for years to come!


We would like to thank all of our community artists and give special appreciation to the talents of Bill Keller, Clayton Miller and our extraordinary artists-in-residence, Victoria Mendoza and Juan Carlos Perez! Huge gratitude to Mrs. Crespo, Ms. Alvarez and everyone at C.A.P.E for their vision and determination to make this community art making opportunity possible!


La Peña en La Floresta is dedicated to the children of Waters Fine Arts School in loving memory of Joanne Nguyen (2001-2015).

mosaic camp 2011

 Other Recent Outdoor Mosaic Projects (See sidebar to learn about these projects.)



Banner(1)Our Me & We: Exploring Identity and Community with Vivian Maier project defined and demonstrated student identity as individuals and as a community (as 5th graders, as members of Waters School and as Chicago youth). Students in Room 308 illustrated their own interpretations of identity by creating a series of narrative photographs documenting themselves— in self-portraiture, school community vignettes and neighborhood street photography.



This practice shared research and interpretation of Vivian Maier’s distinctive presence as an outsider (self-taught) artist who utilized her camera lens as a medium to share her vision and frame her experience. These Me & We discoveries have become photographic documents of how our students identify our time and space and their place in it. Photographic documentation included personal portfolios, in-school permanent exhibition and outdoor neighborhood community banners as well as exhibit at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Artists last May.


2014 Creative Schools Fund Arts Innovate Award & K-8 World Dance Partnership

Stepping Up: Around the World with Patterns, Lines and Forms! was a tremendous arts integration experience for Waters Fine Arts School students, teachers and community at large. In this program, we explored the evolution of contemporary American dance by discovering its roots in West Africa, its journey to the Americas through the Caribbean and to its most recent form— found in urban youth culture interpretations on the streets of the New York City in the 1970s and Chicago today.Creative-Schools-Chart - Copy

All of our 600+ students, in grades K-8, experienced dance instruction in a variety of dance forms including folkloric dance of Guinea (grades K-2), Cuba and Haiti (grades 3-5) and contemporary American breaking/break dancing (grades 6-8). Our “math in motion” partnership with Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE) and individual dance artists (Errin Berry/Muntu Dance Theatre, Kathleen Turner/Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, Amansu Eason/Muntu Dance Theatre, and Mikey Rioux/The Sho) was an intensive 10 week dance immersion during physical education class.

Experiences for students included dance instruction in each specific form, mathematics instruction taught through dance integration and written reflection of dance forms and mathematics integration in weekly student journals. Our students explored movement and learned dance skills throughout the 10 week residency and were able to incorporate these experiences into improvisional final dance creations that showcased newly acquired dance and mathematical knowledge to our entire school community.

Stepping Up: Around the World with Patterns, Lines and Forms! was a huge success for all stakeholders at our school and we look forward to finding new ways for our students to experience dance instruction on a daily basis due to the enthusiasm and learning that was evident throughout our 2013-2014 Creative Schools Arts Innovate Program. (A DVD of the final performances is available! See Mrs. Vecchioni for more information.)

2012/2013 Rivers of Our Ancestors, Our Homelands and Our World!

6th grade Fine Arts & Technology Integration Project with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra!

Rivers of Our Ancestors, Our Homelands and Our World was an  arts integration extravaganza with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) that was featured at the Chicago Cultural Center and on the CSO’s website as a component of the CSO’s Chicago River Festival. Students were part of an award-winning documentary that shared the importance of rivers to our community and humanity. They even had a chance to meet Yo-Yo Ma. Read more about this exciting Chicago event at

2012… a fabulous fine arts journey in stitches and strings!



Strings Around the World was an exciting way for students to explore other cultures, practice traditional fabric arts and learn basic guitar skills rooted in age-old traditions of collaborative art making. Eighteen students (5-8th grade) participated in our program and were able to share with others the three key elements of strings — pattern, repetition and improvisation found in the music and fabric arts of India, Spain and Morocco. strings


Students learned how these cultures are connected yet diverse and how each country, each culture, each region, each tribe and each community of people living together has a rich history of strings. Students learned that the art forms of these cultures, and all cultures, are everyday documentation of our journeys and evolutions as humans. Students demonstrated their knowledge of these understandings through creating original artworks and musical compositions.


Their interpretations of these ancient art forms were yet another journey of strings around the world. This broader concept—art as a documentation of history and our own personal journey—was exactly what Ms. Zelle and I were aiming for in this experience. We were extremely happy that students were truly engaged in this project and enjoyed their journey so much!

Many thanks to Mrs. Assria-Herrera, Mr. Raman, Corrin Walden and Christy, Anne and Jaime Joy for sharing your artistic talents with us! Special thanks to the Oppenheimer Family Foundation for funding this project!

Take a peak at our ART IN ACTION projects from 2010/2011!


Kids’ Knitworks Global Outreach Dulaan is the Mongolian word for warm. In the first stage of this service learning project, students spread dulaan/warmth both far and near as they created hand-knit wraps and garments for families in need across the globe and close to home. Dulaan020cropThis multi-age after school project built camaraderie and community among Waters School students as they learned to knit, crochet and work together to help a variety of communities in need. We promoted global citizenry and broadened our concept of community by creating action-based artworks to help others.


Each month, students learned about a distressed target community including displaced and impoverished families in Mongolia, earthquake victims in Tibet, first-time women and girls going to school in Afghanistan, HIV/AIDS orphans in South Africa, seriously ill and traumatized children in Illinois and elderly men and women on fixed incomes in Chicago. We utilized historical knowledge and current events to learn about these communities as students build knitting skills. Our partner organization in Mongolia was The Dulaan Project. Students were thrilled to see photos of the scarves they had created on their new owners in Mongolia! Thank you to all of our Waters School volunteer knitters!

yarn-bombing-treeAdditionally, in the second stage of our project, students learned about the contemporary “yarn bomb” movement in the USA and discuss its distinction as surprising knitted street art made to “warm up” public spaces in an ecologically-friendly fashion. We practiced a bit of yarn bombing around our school and grounds, including knitting a tree cosey (a yarn doily around the circumference of a tree) around one of our precious 300 year old oak trees to commemorate our school’s 100 year anniversary! Special thanks to the Oppenheimer Family Foundation for funding this project!

Check out our highlights from 2009/2010!


Uthando is the Zulu word for love. In this service learning after school project we became doll makers, creating fabric dolls that were donated to the KwaZulu Natal children of South Africa. One in five KwaZulu Natal children have been orphaned due to disease and poverty. Many of these children do not have toys or dolls to play with. We loved feeling like we made a difference in the daily lives of some of these children by sending our dolls, made with our love, to them to play with.


The purpose of this project was to teach students basic sewing and design skills while building global citizenship. Students studied and created a variety of African textile arts (adinkra, bogolanfini mudcloth, adire eleko, kente, Pan-African batik) in order to make culturally sensitive clothing for their dolls for KwaZulu children to play with. REPSSI (Regional Psycho-Social Support Initiative) research states that this support of play in the children’s daily routine will help with many of the bereavement needs in KwaZulu Natal. In support of building cross-cultural understanding, students explored traditional songs and dance, cultural celebrations and folk tales of South Africa in this project.

Our goal in Uthando=Love was to create connections and build understandings that reached beyond our after school program. Our Fine Arts Parent Group assisted students by working as a sewing cooperative to create dolls for students to enhance with traditional Pan-African dress and adornments. We encouraged all Waters School families and artists to become involved in this global citizenship project by making dolls at home to be donated to our cause. The original Uthando Project is an organization based in Perth, Australia. We resourced their knowledge base in order to make our donations to the children of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.


Although our project is over, if you are interested in helping out, buying gift cards to support Uthando Project goals, making a doll or just learning more, please email me at or go directly to the Uthando Project website


This project was supported by grants from Chicago Arts Partnership in Education and the Oppenheimer Family Foundation. Ms. Beza, Ms.Okulinski-Reyes and Ms. Hutto/Global Explorers Kids collaborated with the art room on this project! Our Parent Ensemble volunteered to help us sew additional dolls to accompany the children’s efforts. Our Book Fair Parents donated children’s books to be sent with our dolls. Thank you to everyone for all of your support! Special thanks to parent volunteers Reyna Rayo & Naomi Fothergill!


Thank you to everyone who joined us April 24, 2010 for our Community Uthando Doll Making Cooperative in celebration of Global Youth Service Day. Over 60 Cityyear Corps volunteers collaborated with our community to create as many dolls as we could on this tremendous day of service! Overall, we sent 125 handmade fabric dolls to the children of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa!



Way-Out Washboards was a Middle School project that looked at outsider, or self-taught, artists of the American South. We were in partnership with Ms. Zelle as we looked at the African American experience of the South in the last century documented by self-taught artists and musicians.


Announcements-3We explored vernacular artists and Blues musicians in this study. We utilized homeroom curricular themes such as the elements of fiction as we created stories in word, pictures and sound that document a a personal hero that inspired students creatively. These stories or honor statements were told in sound (using found object musical instruments) and in pictures (using vintage washboards as our “canvases” for our vernacular art). We created a multi-media art installation at the Intuit Gallery in May 2010 that showcased our work. Over 18 Waters School families were able to make it to our Grand Opening Event. Thank you for your support!


This project was supported by a Center for Intuit and Outsider Art Gallery Fellowship. For more on outsider art, check out Intuit’s website at

parent workshop

A HUGE thank you to Waters School students, staff and families for your creativity, energy and support!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead

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