A Show with Punch

And I don’t mean cookies and punch! I want to give props to the Westfield Pyramid for the excellent art event they put  together this week. This is certainly not the only group that puts together an outstanding show, but I want to share some of the things they do to make it so. Let’s count ’em down.

1. Get a nice big space where you can leave the show up for more than a few hours.

Westfield High School is very generous and supportive of the arts programs, and they show it by allowing the art show to be set up in the main gym — and allowing it to stay up for a couple of days! This makes a huge difference in the quality of the show you can put on. I know many of our local pyramids only have a space for one evening. When you have to set up, stay for the reception, and break down, all within a few hours, you can’t expect to pull something amazing together.

Admittedly, it takes work to get to this. The art teachers work very hard to advocate for their programs, AND it’s a self-feeding cycle. The success of the show makes the school that much more willing to allow the use of the space… but you need the space to be able to make such a successful show.

And speaking of advocacy…

2. Get the administrators there.

How, you ask? It doesn’t hurt to provide dinner to your VIPs!

And speaking of food…

3. Provide food for your guests.

If it’s exciting food, that much the better! Westfield had two food trucks on hand for this event. In the future, that may become a fundraiser.

4. Make it interactive.

The “Like your favorite artworks” sign in the image below was an ingenious fund-raiser. For just a dollar, anyone could buy a small strip of star stickers to put on the labels of their favorite artworks.


5. Promote, promote, promote!

With your students, with your colleagues, with your administrator, AND through social media. As you can see in the image above, they also leveraged attendees interest in social media through their #HASHTAGPROJECT  by inviting everyone to share pictures on Instagram with #WHSARTSHOW2016.

6. Leverage technology.

In the picture above you can see the QR code that invites attendees to access a website where they can vote for their favorites to be recognized with a Bulldogs’ Choice Award.

Below, you can see a whole wall of QR codes that connect you with digital animations created by students. Just scan the QR code with your phone and watch the animations at your leisure!


7. Set the mood.

A few members of the Westfield High School Jazz Band were on site to provide live background music. What a great way to promote one another in the arts!


8. Make thinking visible!

All around the exhibition, you could find student reflections and artist statements describing the thought, the process, and the creativity that went into their artmaking.

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9. Give students creative license.

Advanced level art students developed one-person or two-person exhibits to show their work in a thematic way. Showing this relationship reinforces the depth of learning.

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10. Put in the work.

There is no doubt that all of this takes a huge amount of work, but there is a huge payoff. Let me add to this, that art teachers should do everything they can to be collaborative and support those who are taking the bulk of the burden.

Ms. Flo, I know you are surrounded by incredibly supportive people, and thank goodness, because I know you busted your hump to make this happen! Congrats to you and all of the Westfield Pyramid art teachers!



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