Collaborative Artwork: A Gift that Continues to Give
Each year, all of our classes create collaborative art pieces that are used in our benefit’s silent auction. The artworks raise money for the school while showcasing the creative abilities of our current students to all of the stakeholders in our community. Since our student body population consists of three-month-olds through sixth graders, the pieces created for this event are varied and unique. Sometimes the pieces we auction off are one-of-a-kind and go for hundreds of dollars, and other times classes create pieces that are reproducible and go home to many lucky owners.
A few years ago, our first grade students made a mixed media piece that truly amazed everyone: a black-and-white photo showing themselves on our schoolyard, each standing in a “painting position.” Students superimposed their own watercolor paintings onto the image, creating the illusion of painting in color on a black-and-white background. They printed the final product on canvas, enabling multiple purchases at the benefit. The piece displayed our elementary schoolyard, a beloved part of our physical facility where students have recess, participate in PE and take part in all of our outdoor celebrations and community events. The students’ watercolor pieces reflected our dynamic art program, and their expressive poses demonstrated our school’s cultivation of individual creativity. It was then no surprise that when this unique piece of artwork hit our silent auction, our community members were awed and eager to bid.
Our development staff and art faculty sensed that this piece would be popular from the beginning. They set a price of $360, and throughout the evening six community members were eager to purchase it, whether or not they had students in the class. A few actively engaged families decided that the piece had to be displayed proudly in the school. They purchased one that they donated back, which was immediately hung in the admissions office.
To this day, prospective parents are impressed by a product that reflects the quality and values of our educational offerings. The admissions staff tell the story of engaged families coming together to purchase it for the office, thus conveying the warmth and connectedness of our community while complimenting our students’ work.
On the night of our benefit, this collaborative art piece brought in around $2,000, but it has since contributed so much more. As an object that embodies our education and community, it lives and breathes in our admissions office. It has motivated teachers to create reproducible pieces that appeal to community members outside of our parent body. It has set the bar high and created a new approach to the collaborative pieces that have always been a staple at our silent auction. Finally, as the students (and their parents) move up in our elementary program, they come back to this piece and are reminded of all the ways they have grown—physically, spiritually and intellectually.