Park Street Academy (PSA), a private pre-school and kindergarten located in Montclair, NJ, hosted its Senior Art Museum, a special, one-night-only, pop-up museum exhibit on Friday, May 31. The show featured over 400 works created SA students between 4-6 years old, inspired by a diverse set of artists from around the world and based on a fully-immersive year-long art curriculum designed by PSA Director and longtime educator, Lisa Raphael.
Throughout the year, the children explored street art through the eyes of Dieynaba Sidibe, Senegal’s first female graffiti artist, reveled in the bold colors and thick brushstrokes of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night and investigated lines and composition through Mondrian. Raphael introduced abstract paintings through Kandinsky and cubism though Picasso – and drew on Georgia O’Keeffe’s poppies to teach on the birth of American modernism.
While Park Street Academy has incorporated fine arts into the curriculum since the school was founded in 1996, this year marks the 4th Annual SAM exhibit – now a favorite event among students and parents. With Raphael’s in-depth approach, students studied different genres in art, learning about the history of each movement and the lives of each artist highlighted in the show. Their enthusiasm and passion for the year-long project serves as a testament to how robust exposure to the world of fine arts at a young age can have a major impact on preschoolers and kindergarteners.
“In addition to math and reading skills, art is a major building block in child development, and learning to create and appreciate visual beauty may be even more important to the development of the next generation of children” explains Raphael. “Being exposed to the world of fine arts at a young age can open up an entirely new world, giving children the vocabulary to speak about his or her favorite artist, recognize a famous painting or ask to use a variety of media to create a masterpiece of his or her own.”