The eyes of 25 second-graders focused on Megan Hallet Tuesday afternoon as she explained the process of printmaking.
The students were from Belinda Butler’s class at West Elementary School in Tooele.
Hallet, from the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on the University of Utah campus, showed the curious audience how they could produce cards with ink designs on front and back.
Once the second-graders understood the process, they were asked to tap their own creativity as they designed the cards.
“There are no mistakes. We are experimenting. Close your eyes and dream about your own design and picture what your card will look like,” Hallet said.
The instructor jotted down on the blackboard possible occasions when creatively-designed cards could be used. The students mentioned Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Earth Day and birthdays.
But these cards would contain no words or letters.
“Draw a picture. Don’t use words, only pictures or symbols,” Hallet told the class. “What would be something you could draw on a Mother’s Day card so we would know it was for Mother’s Day?” Hallet asked. One student mentioned a “heart” or “mom in bed.”
For the Fourth of July a student said exploding fireworks would get the message across.
For Father’s Day, well, “dad in bed,” explained one of the students. Another student said a picture of dad working on the car would be good for Father’s Day.
The students were to indent their designs on foam pads. For the next few minutes they worked on their designs. Some were quick to complete the project. Others took a little more time and focused on what they wanted.
Once completed, the designs were taken to a large table where the children rolled ink on their freshly indented foam pads and then pressed them onto folded pieces of paper.
After that, the cards were laid out on another large table to dry. The finished products were soon available for children to take home.
The one-hour session was part of Art-in-a-Box, a program available to elementary school classes available through the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
Hallet planned to leave all the materials so classes could repeat the art project at various times throughout the year.
The program has two objectives. First, to provide free art material and give students a chance to do a project most have not done before — printmaking. Second, to provide great tools and lesson plans so the teachers feel comfortable using the boxes. Each year the school will receive a new box with tools for another type of art project.
Earlier in the day, Hallet provided the same experience to Mrs. Trujillo’s second-grade class at West. The program is funded through grants and donations to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The State Office of Educational grants match any money raised by the Utah Museum of Fine arts to go toward the Art-in-a-Box project.
“I like working with children instead of adults because they are not afraid of making a mistake or worry that much about how their projects look,” Hallet said. Before she is through, she will make 90 presentations by June to schools throughout the state.
“We will present it to about 2500 students in 10 districts this first year,” she said.
Butler said she wanted to use Artin- a-Box in her class because she feels students are missing out on some experiences that provide for a well-rounded education.