By Jim Klar, Communications Officer
Fruits, vegetables, plants, and gardens are all around us here in Taipei. And lately, they’re especially numerous in the TAS Lower School hallways. That’s where you’ll find 30 exhibits containing over 1,000 works of art created by over 900 artists. “Plants and Gardens” is a glorious display of student work, artistic expression, and plant diversity and is the brainchild of Lower School Visual Arts Teachers Stephanie Lee and Ramy Youssif.
While a stroll through the exhibits of student work is an enjoyable, leisurely experience, researching and executing a theme for projects of such magnitude can be anything but. According to Lee, much like a garden can’t grow without a rainstorm, “Themes for large projects like this start with a brainstorm.” she said. “It takes a while to research, share and discuss ideas that accommodate two and three-dimensional projects like drawing, painting, clay, and mixed media,” she added.
Further considerations include a wide range of artistic capabilities and skills among lower school students, from color mixing to elements and principles of design like line, shape, and color and placing those techniques in a historical perspective. Youssif explained, “We inspired students by showing work by great artists who employed these same techniques. Alexander Calder, Guiseppe Arcimboldo, Lee Kan Kyo, Henri Matisse, Takashi Murakami and Jean Michael Basquiat were all role models for Plants and Gardens.”
Finally, timing is of the utmost importance. All artwork must be up and displayed correctly for the first parent conferences in the fall. “We get 10 weeks to create the work and assemble the exhibits in time for parent conferences on the 11th week,” Lee explained. “Each project typically takes 3-4 weeks, and each grade does 2-4 projects,” she added, “So you can see we have our work cut out for us.”
Past exhibit themes have included Harry Potter, environmental issues, STEAM, outer space, and the circus. “Plants and Gardens” met the timing and execution requirements while delivering a broad learning perspective. “Plants give us food and medicine and help form the foundation of every culture,” said Lee. “And they’re also prevalent throughout literature.” This is demonstrated in a bulletin board festooned with flowers created by 2nd Graders and bearing a quote from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, “If you look the right way, you can see the whole world is a garden.”
Congratulations to Lee, Youssif, and the more than 900 lower-school artists for making good on the TAS mission of making the world a better (and more beautiful) place.