Art literally comes to life in St. John’s elementary art classes

In St. John’s elementary art classes, exciting chances to learn and grow are never far away. Art teacher, Marianne Behaeghel, works hard to ensure each student is learning, gaining self-confidence and having lots fun in the process.

One assignment Behaeghel particularly enjoyed working on this year was the Breugel project she completed with the fifth grade.  In this assignment the famous Breugel painting, “The Census at Bethlehem” was recreated by the students.

Students were split into three groups and given the choice of working as costume designers, architects or painters. Costume designers were responsible for mimicking the clothing in the Breugel painting, then photographing themselves and other students dressed as the painting’s characters. The architects were accountable for replicating prominent structures from the painting in a three-dimensional format and painters were tasked with painting the background.

After each group’s responsibilities were completed, every piece was put into a computer program. The computer program allowed students to use everything they had created. The backdrop, photos of their three-dimensional structures and photos of themselves dressed as the characters were used to recreate the painting.

“They became the picture,” Behaeghel said.

Prior to the art project, the students had the chance to visit the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. There they had the opportunity to see the original painting, “The Census at Bethlehem.”

“This project was a great way for traditional art to meet modern technology and become more interesting for the students,” Behaeghel said.

As an art teacher, Behaeghel strives to show students that taking risks can be a good thing. Through assignments like the Breugel project, students have opportunities to use their judgment and define their individual strengths by exploring many different techniques and styles of art.

Behaelghel loves seeing students surprise themselves. She said it is very rewarding when the students realize they have completed a project they didn’t think they could do. This motivates her to encourage exploration, relaxation and confidence in her classroom.