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Flying with Faith

March 28, 2023 | Clara Buckley

Inspired by Faith Ringgold’s book, Tar Beach, students began drawing themselves flying over familiar or favorite places. We took that interest into paint in the studio.

Faith Ringgold’s characters are flying above their neighborhood in New York City and children recognized the George Washington Bridge. Once our self portrait paintings were flying around the classroom I asked the children,

What city do you live in?

What does your neighborhood look like?

Using photos, block structures, or their memory, children began to draw their own home. We loved discussing whether our building has an elevator or only stairs. What floor of the building we live on. Whether we walk up steps to get to our front door.

With more time, children added more details; a balcony, a family member in the window, sliding doors, stained glass window, a gabled roof, a ramp for strollers.

As we looked closer at Faith Ringgold’s art, we noticed that, at night, windows appear brightly lit up. We read more stories showing cities at night and began thinking if we’re drawing our home at night or during the day. Now our buildings are on display in the classroom underneath our flying self portraits, we’ve completed our Faith Ringgold study.

Clara Buckley

Preschool Art Specialist; Middle School Art

Clara Buckley’s teaching spans the ages of Mustard Seed School, from the youngest students in the preschool to students in the graduating class. She’s found many similarities between teaching three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds!

As an art teacher who never enjoyed drawing, Ms Buckley’s hope is that each child she teaches discovers a way to create art that they enjoy, whether it be sculpture, printing, textiles, architectural drawing, or collage.

Ms. Buckley loves living in Jersey City, a place whose diversity and welcome for immigrants reflects her own family experience. When planning future travel destinations, art, food, and time with family are featured items on her list.

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