Teacher paints a picture of art in all elementary schools | ParkRecord.com

Teacher paints a picture of art in all elementary schools

Frank Fisher of the Record staff

If Anne-Marie Buckland can make it happen, she will have every elementary school student in the Park City School District embracing multi-culture art while at the same time having the confidence to explore the unknown in creativity.

Buckland wants students to make artistic mistakes. "If students don’t make mistakes, they are missing an aspect of our exercise. They are not getting the experience of growth."

Buckland, who is in her first year of teaching 350 McPolin students from first through fifth grade, the nuances of cubism as well as the origons of art throughout the world.

She exudes joy and a sense of adventure as she darts from table to table to see how her students are constructing their papier-mache sculptures, some of which are larger than the kids. Some represent cacti, some human forms. Students work as teams of four or five. This is an artistic celebration of the Latin American Day of the Dead "Dia de Los Muertos," a two-day celebration that begins the day after Halloween.

Aside from the timing, Day of the Dead and Halloween have little in common.

McPolin Elementary School fifth grader Yaneth Quintana, 10, said her family, from Mexico, attends church for a couple of days to honor their ancestors on Nov. 1-2. This year has special significance because her aunt died in April. "When someone dies, you celebrate, but you are sad," she said. Her family will make the foods Aunt Lucia liked, including tamales, in her honor.

Charlie Riqueno, a fifth-grade student, placed strips of paper dipped in a milky paste on a life-sized figure for a McPolin Day of the Dead exhibition. He spoke of the two days beginning November as "a special time." He said his family will go to his aunt’s house this year.

Buckland has been hired to teach art at McPolin, and has raised much of her pay through grants she wrote. She said if you love your calling, you will find a way to make it happen. She effuses positive energy, and hopes she can get the district to see the importance of art in the elementary years. The Park City School District does not teach art as a part of the curriculum until the sixth grade.

Buckland said art is so important for kids of elementary age. "This is where kids form their identities. Through art they learn to trust themselves, and not fear risk. They see what they are capable of, what they can do," she said. She said kids realize through their expression, "I can do this," she said, adding that art gives them confidence. Kids can learn school subjects from all angles when subjects are linked to art. They learn they live in a visual world.

Buckland is a graduate with a degree in art from Middlebury College in Vermont. She came from a family that found expression as the key to life. Her father is both a physician and a jazz musician.

Buckland and her 350 students will have their painted sculptures on display at McPolin for Dia de Los Muertos. The public is welcome to view the exhibit Monday Oct. 29 through Thursday Oct.1during school hours. People are asked to check in at the main office

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