Story and photos by Stephen Wilson

When Nestor Gil, associate professor of art, handed out pencils to kindergarteners, he asked them to notice what made those pencils different from the standard No. 2 pencils they may see at school.

No erasers.

“There are no mistakes in art,” says Gil. The precept stenciled on the wall in his studio, one of many, says it a little differently: Not flaws. Features.

This approach to creativity fosters the idea that you can’t do it wrong, allowing his young pupils to dive in and get messy.

They do.

Today’s lessons are part of the Aspirations program from Landis Center for Community Engagement.  Lafayette faculty, local elementary teachers, and both Lafayette and Easton students work together through cooperatively developed classroom-oriented learning modules.

The kindergartners are from Paxinosa Elementary, one of two United Way Community Schools in Easton that help level the playing field for schools where students face more barriers to success.

The kids draw rectangles and then fill those forms with anything they want.

Then Gil moves them on to clay–a big fat slab of it. They play with it however they want–digging in, cutting lines, making patterns, building shapes, and adding dimension.

“They are so adventurous and bold, unafraid to play,” he says. “Their neurons and synapses are firing at 10,000 miles per hour.”

Their kindergarten teacher is delighted.

“Having taught kindergarten at Paxinosa for 23 years and being a Paxinosa graduate myself, I want my students to see the opportunity they have outside the world they know.,” says Stephanie Frederickson. “The classroom is rigorous with tasks, so days like today provide a time to explore and the chance to see that there are ways to express themselves after high school.”

When Gil provides new clay slabs and a specific task–make something out of nature–the magic of their exploration takes shape.

Take a look at what they created with the help of their Lafayette art student mentors:

Categorized in: Academic News, Art, Community, Community-Based Learning and Research, Faculty and Staff, Featured News, Landis Center, News and Features
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1 Comment

  1. Christine says:

    As a Lafayette student (’01), working at Paxinosa through the America Reads program was one of my favorite experiences. I now work with families in my local Arts Academy (music and movement, colors, shapes and form) and realize every day the importance of arts education in the classroom and beyond. It is soul food for the community. Congratulations to Lafayette and Easton for continuing to make these connections!

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