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How Do We Decide Which Art Piece is Best?

February 8, 2022 | Clara Buckley

Every year fourth and fifth grade students enter The Graceful Envelope Contest, transforming an ordinary envelope into a work of art. The Washington Calligraphers Guild set the theme, requirements, and criteria for judging. For students, it’s a taste of the real life of artists and designers; creating to meet an exhibition theme or designing to a client’s brief.

Fifth grade viewed online the artwork of past contest finalists in the child categories and chose their favorite. Then they looked again at the art and applied the judging criteria. Students recognized the difference in evaluating a winner using the contest criteria compared to their personal choice.

As students worked with this year’s contest theme, Greetings and Salutations, they applied the contest criteria and relevant visual arts standards to their design and creation process. Both these requirements were reflected in the rubrics used for grading.

In practice this looks like brainstorming multiple ideas, choosing whether to start their design from an image, postage stamp, or lettering, meeting the theme of the contest, making choices about color, creatively including lettering, quality craftsmanship on their finished final envelope.

Students will mail their contest entries next month (meeting the deadline) and wait impatiently until the judging happens later in the Spring. Children from across the world enter the contest and many years we’ve been lucky to be included in the list of winners.

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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