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Fresco Lessons
Special study guides incorporate art and medieval culture

By Ray Glass AVALANCHE-JOURNAL


Parsons Elementary art teacher Kay Fleming helped write a Vatican Exhibition study guide for elementary teachers. In September she'll take about 200 students, including those in the class behind her, to see the 31 frescoes in the exhibit.
Robin M. Cornett Avalanche-Journal
Start with one international art exhibition for inspiration. Add hundreds of donated disposable trays, liberal amounts of plaster of paris and tempera paint and plenty of planning. Mix well with excitement generated by 200 fifth- and sixth-graders.

That's the plan, and Parsons Elementary School art teacher Kay Fleming hardly can wait to be inundated with frescoes.

"This is so exciting to me," Fleming said.

She's excited about touring Vatican Exhibition 2002, a display of 31 medieval frescoes scheduled for June 2 through Sept. 15 in the Museum of Texas Tech.

"I have three sets of tickets," Fleming said with a grin.

She is also excited about taking her fifth- and sixth-graders to see the exhibit in September and helping those students study, about frescoes. During that unit of study those budding artists will make simplified frescoes of their own design.

"I want it to be something important to them," she said.

photo: news
  Fourth-grade art students draw a skeleton during class at Parsons Elementary School. As fifth-graders in September, they will visit the Vatican Exhibition and make simple frescoes in Kay Fleming's art class at Parsons.  
Making simple frescoes by painting wet plaster is among the activities in the Vatican Exhibition study guide for elementary teachers produced by Fleming and Hodges Elementary art teacher Janet Price.

Art teachers Jennifer High Cox from Estacado High and Brenda Stanton Parker from O.L. Slaton Junior High collaborated with chemistry teacher Diana Thames from Estacado High on the secondary level student/teacher guide.

Cox created a unit combining art and world history. Parker produced units on art and mathematics and art and literature. Thames contributed an intriguing unit about the chemistry behind the art of fresco painting.

Cox said advanced art and advanced chemistry classes at Estacado High will study Thames' unit together.

"I think we presented four lessons that are very, very different from each other," Cox said.

Vatican for kids

• Eight days, Sept. 3-Sept. 6 and Sept. 10-Sept. 13, have been set aside for schoolchildren to tour Vatican Exhibition 2002 in the Museum of Texas Tech.

• Five Lubbock Independent School District teachers collaborated on two study guides designed for use by teachers in the classroom.

• Museum artist in residence Adetty Perez-Miles, education specialist Felix Barboza-Retana and curator of education Lee Brodie have made Vatican Exhibition presentations at 24 city and area schools.

The guides incorporate medieval history and culture in addition to art. They were given to teachers who made reservations for students to attend the exhibit during the block of days in September set aside for classroom visits. The guides are also available on the museum's Web site.

Fleming already has created four simple frescoes with the techniques she included in the guide for teachers. She said timing is crucial in painting the wet, quick-setting plaster. Students will have between 20 and 30 minutes to paint the plaster before it dries.

Students at Parsons Elementary will make the artwork in 4-by-8-inch trays that are about 1 inch deep. They will work from drawings and likely will work in groups until they become familiar with the technique.

Cox said she will take all her art classes, about 150 students, to the Vatican Exhibition in early September. It's a rare and special opportunity no student should miss, she said.

"It's one thing to look at a picture of medieval art in a book," she said. "It's another thing entirely to see it right there in front of you."

rglass@lubbockonline.com 766-8745




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