Art Lab

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

Look at our Waters Fine Arts Digital Gallery (click on artsonia link at left) to see some of the exciting projects students are creating in art class this year!


STEAM UNIT OF STUDY FEATURE: A recent First Semester anchor artist—STEVEN PAUL JUDD…and more…

steven paul judd


(B28) Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., listens to academy awarding-winning actor George Clooney speaking to the media at the National Press Club in Washignton Thursday, April 27, 2006, to call attention to the critical situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. (AP Photo/Mannie Garcia)

(B28) Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., listens to academy awarding-winning actor George Clooney speaking to the media at the National Press Club in Washignton Thursday, April 27, 2006, to call attention to the critical situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. (AP Photo/Mannie Garcia)

Steven Paul Judd  (1965–) is recognized for turning iconic images into Native-inspired artworks. “Hopi”  is a spin on Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster for President Obama’s first National election campaign. Mr. Judd uses

pop culture (and sometimes humor) to raise awareness of pas

t and present Native American issues.


hopi woman“His artwork speaks directly to Native communities. The way that he’s able to make political statements by re-creating famous artwork[s] is a part of what makes his pieces so powerful.” Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee) told TakePart, a social justice digital news forum. His art asks all of us to remember and reflect on Native Americans’ place in American history—yesterday AND today. Mr. Judd is of Kiowa and Choctaw descent.



The original photograph that Mr. Judd used in his artwork is an image taken by P.G Ga

tes (1910). It is part of a series of photos Mr. Gates shot of an unnamed Hopi woman in preparation for a snake dance.

It is a royalty free image in National Geographic’s Vintage Collection.


Students K-8 will be looking at a variety of Native artists creating artworks today. They will connect these artists’ perspectives to homeroom curricular themes including All About Me, community, Native American studies, American history, politics, elections and pop culture—Olympics, sports, movies, Pokémon Go etc….

Our overall theme will be identity. What are our identities as artists, creators, designers and architects? How do we identify/define ourselves, our community and ourselves as Americans? We will look at concepts such as ownership, appropriation and misappropriation in terms of art and history. We will use the iconic images of Steven Paul Judd, Shepard Fairey , Mannie Garcia and P.G. Gates (above and right) to kick-start this discussion.

Appropriation (in art) is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The new work recontextualizes and/or interprets whatever it borrows to create the new work. In most cases the original ‘thing’ remains accessible as the original, without change. One can inspire the other.



Mis/Appropriation: to take (something) dishonestly for your own use or to appropriate

(something) wrongly


Artists in our study include: Aaron Carapella (Cherokee), Malcolm Furlow (Choctaw), Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Inupiat-Athabascan), Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa-Choctaw), Dan Namingha (Hopi), Victor Pascual (Navajo), Abigail Lee Kahilikia Romanchak (Native Hawaiian), Thomas Ryan Red Corn (Osage), Sarah Sense (Chitimacha-Choctaw), Preston Singletary (Tlinglit), Kay Walkingstick (Cherokee) and Marie Watt (Seneca).


Examples of recent STEAM class projects to share!



Social Studies Integration: All About Me
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

Kindergartners are exploring self portraits as enrichment to their homeroom All About Me unit. Students are working with shapes (triangles, diamonds, squares and rectangles) as they create their favorite animals, fruits/vegetables and toy

s, learning about cool colors (blue, green, purple) as they create vegetation watercolor backgr

ounds and practicing observational drawing as they create their own faces (complete with eyes, ears, hair, a nose and a mouth) with careful color choices. They are uniting all of these art concepts and methods into a mixed media composition based on Frida Kahlo’s use of self portrait to tell a story!

Visual Culture: Frida Kahlo (Mexico)
Elements & Principles of Art: Color, Pattern and Shape

1st grade


Social Studies Integration: All About Me
“Everything you can imagine is real.”
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

1st graders are also exploring their All About Me homeroom unit with self portraits—in cardboard, wood, fabric and paint! Students are using assemblage methods to practice Marisol Escobar’s unique style to create narratives out of found objects, old photos and painted surfaces. We are building our self portraits out of raised geo

metric shapes and embellishing them with variety of collage materials. Our own photos will complete our self portraits and our study of line, texture, shape and pattern.

Visual Culture: Marisol Escobar (Venezuela)
Elements & Principles of Art: Line, Pattern, Shape and Texture

2nd grade


Science Integration: Biomes

“Colors, like features, follow the changesof the emotions.”

—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

2nd graders are also exploring 3D shape (FORM) in the art room this quarter. They are looking at their scientific study of biomes through a particularly Fernando Botero lens as they create exaggerated form sculptures of their favorite animal. They are practicing creating balance as they create papier mache lions, elephants, polar bears, lizards and monkeys (and more!). In homage to Mr. Botero, each of these sculptures will have expressively large middles and bright, bold colors. We look forward to seeing our cheerful animals interacting in their biomes at the end of this study!

Visual Culture: Fernando Botero (Colombia)

Elements & Principles of Art:Line, Color, Form & Balance

3rd grade


Science Integration: Mighty Acorns Curriculum


“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are othe

rs who

with the help of their art and their intelligence transform a yellow spot into sun.”
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

3rd graders are beginning their spiraling three year Mighty Acorns curriculum and will be exploring the Chicago River throughout the school year. We are looking at Guillermo Trujillo’s expressive landscapes as a way to launch this key experience of all Waters School students. We are adding ourselves to our Mighty Acorn landscapes just like Mr. Trujillo—exaggerated, long figures that grow up out of their environments. We are usin

g ink, colored pencil, and watercolor to explore a variety of materials to create bold environments that share the amazing

variety in color, shape, pattern in the Chicago River habitat. We are practicing creating foreground, space and unity in composition in this narrative work that reinforces our role in making a difference in environmental stewardship and healthy habitats for years to come.

Visual Culture: Guillermo Trujillo (Panama)
Elements & Principles of Art: Color, Shape, Pattern, Space and Unity

4th grade

Science Integration: Mighty Acorns Curriculum
“To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso


4th graders are exploring the work of plein air painter and social and environmental activist Olivia Peguero. We are looking at her bold botanical studies as they practice “zooming in” on some of the prairie plants studied in their fall Mighty Acorns fieldwork. We are testing a variety of paints to create our artworks that focus on creating a strong foreground and realistic space in a composition. We are using Waters School prairie plants in our community garden and practicing plein air illustration (drawing outside in our natural environment) in this project. We are also referencing our Mighty Acorns journals to create Chicago River backgrounds for our final composition. Additionally, we are learning about Ms. Peguero’s work in the Dominican Republic to provide school books for children and preserve native cocoa trees in her community.
Visual Culture: Olivia Peguero (Dominican Republic)
Elements & Principles of Art: Line, Perspective, Color and Space

5th grade

Science Integration: Mighty Acorns Curriculum

“You don’t make art, you find it.”
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

5th graders are studying the diversity of the Mighty Acorns landscape while practicing the development of an artistic symbol system and etching techniques of Aníbal Villaćis. We are learning how Mr. Villaćis refers to ancient Inca patterns as he creates modern abstract works on metal and canvas surfaces. We are experimenting with his use of a variety of media and tools as we map the four habitats found at the Sauganash woodland. Students are creating their own symbol systems to represent the oak woodlands, the slough, the prairie and the floodplain woods and testing the right media and textures to convey each respective habitat in this project.

Visual Culture: Aníbal Villaćis (Ecuador)
Elements & Principles of Art: Color, Shape, Pattern and Texture

6th grade

Social Studies Integration: Ancient Civilizations
“What do you think an artist is? …He is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image.”
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

6th graders are practicing line drawing, shape and proportion as they create their own codices of ancient Mayan mythological deities and learning how art was an essential part of everyday Mayan life in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and the southern lowland communities of Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador. As an extension to students’ classroom study of ancient civilizations, students are looking at glyphs on codices (amate accordion books) and stelae (large vertical limestone tablets) as the hybrid of writing and visual representation in ancient storytelling. We will be recreating some of the first forms of papermaking, writing and the first form of bookmaking in our project as we study the amazing ancient civilization of the Maya. Look for our codices and practice your own glyph writing (taught by our newest Mayan scribes) at our upcoming exhibit!

Visual Culture: The Maya Civilization (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador)
Elements & Principles of Art: Color, Line, Shape, Emphasis and Proportion

7th grade
3D Construction

Science Integration: Scientific Method & Cells
“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.”
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

7th graders are exploring the one-of-a-kind light sculptures of Grimanesa Amorós as they compare the similarities between art and science in this 3D construction project. We are creating sculptures that depict how cells gather and collect in our bodies based on photographic images and scientific diagrams. Additionally, we are using papier mache and a variety of other media to convey the ephemeral properties found in Ms. Amorós’ free form sculptures. Our goal is to document our artistic experiment using Scientific Method and talk about science using the art terms of pattern, color, texture, emphasis and form. Look for our artworks at the upcoming science fair and our experiments at our upcoming art exhibit…:)

Visual Culture: Grimanesa Amorós (Peru)
Elements & Principles of Art: Pattern ,Color, Texture, Emphasis and Form

8th grade
VERDADISM (Speaking My Truth)

Science Integration: Scientific Method Language Arts Integration Narrative Writing
“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”
—Pablo Ruiz Picasso

8th graders are creating layered self portraits that share Soraida Martinez’s concept of VERDADISM. Ms. Martinez has invented this term to describe her artwork that shares her truth as she knows it. She creates art, teaches youth workshops and is a guest speaker around the country promoting tolerance and conflict resolution through VERDADISM. We are practicing the art of self portrait and VERDADISM in both narrative writing and mixed media (including printmaking materials and acrylic paint). Our VERDADISMS talk about our feelings about an issue that is important to us. Our artistic representations from two perspectives (written and visual) demonstrate how we are more complex than a simple visual representation. We are exploring the idea of identity using Scientific Method’s practice of always challenging (our) truth and our concept of reality.

Visual Culture: Soraida Martinez (Puerto Rico)
Elements & Principles of Art: Color, Shape, Pattern, Emphasis

Check out more of the current projects happening in the art room on our Announcements page!

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