Community Partnerships Support Students: Focus on Photography and Nature
Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) announces the opening of a display of nature photographs and collages on Saturday, June 9 at an opening reception between 1:30 and 2:30 PM. The works exhibited were created by students at Gaithersburg Elementary School during photography and nature programs led by teaching artist Joanne Miller. Washingtonian Center, owned and managed by The Peterson Companies, is graciously hosting the exhibition in one of their retail window display areas.
“Photography is one of the best ways to introduce children to nature,” says environmental photographer Joanne Miller. “Many of the students at Gaithersburg Elementary School had very little experience in nature, so this was a new and wonderful experience for them, an experience that taught them observational skills while meeting science curriculum objectives.” In collaboration with the fourth grade teachers, Ms. Miller led an in-school arts integration residency supported by a grant from AHCMC. In this program, students went on a photographic journey that integrated art, science and technology. Ms. Miller provided 30 digital cameras to the students who photographed the nature on school property and model ecosystems comprised of mammals, insects, plants and water elements to reinforce principles of the science and art curriculum and to develop an understanding of relationships in an ecosystem. Art teachers Susan Knutson and Patricia Kennedy collaborated in guiding students to communicate their personal vision though photographic collage. Learned art and computer skills offered an opportunity for creative expression with first-hand exposure to the world of nature.
In addition to the in-school program, Ms. Miller also led a nine-week after school photography and nature program managed by Identity, a Gaithersburg-based agency providing programs for Latino youth and families in Montgomery County. Supported by a partial grant from the City of Gaithersburg and contributions from private donors and partnering with school staff and Linkages to Learning, students explored the visual language of art and photography outdoors on school grounds, in the wildlife habitat of Asbury Methodist Village and at a local farm. Emphasis was placed on the value of personal creative vision, positive self esteem and respect for the natural environment. Students created a final photographic hand-made book and exhibition prints.
For this exhibition, Miller and her partners secured space at Washingtonian Center with the help of the Peterson Companies and GreenKids at the Audubon Naturalist Society. “GreenKids is thrilled to co-present ECO Art from the students at Gaithersburg Elementary School and artist-in-residence Joanne Miller at Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg,” says GreenKids spokesperson Katrina E. Kugel.
“We are thrilled to provide talented and knowledgeable teaching artists like Joanne Miller to area schools for arts integrated residencies,” says Suzan Jenkins, AHCMC’s CEO.