Discovering New Artists in Middle School Art Class

Students in Emily Tucci's Middle School art class wrapped up the trimester with artist presentations.

"They were each assigned an artist and were to give a report on their life, work, and what inspires them about the artist," explained Ms. Tucci.

Students delved into the lives of artists most had never heard of before. The assignment was to analyze the artist and provide biographical information, what material they use, what inspires them, a fun fact, and the three pieces that resonated most with the student.

Stella Turner '26 shared her research about Ami Vitale.

"Do you know who hires her?" asked Ms. Tucci? "National Geographic. This artist is a photojournalist and is an example of how photos can tell a different story."

"The art history project was created to highlight artists of a diversity of backgrounds, cultures, gender identities, mediums, and ages," shared Ms. Tucci. "I assigned the students their artists based on what I thought they would enjoy the most for their personalities."

Nora Newman '28 dove into the life and career of Cayce Zavaglia. "She is an embroidery portrait artist," explained Nora. "She is known for fiber art and oil paintings." Nora pointed out the meticulous stitching in Zavaglia's works. "You can see how the thread is sewn in and it takes a really long time. From far away, it looks like a real painting."

"My hope is for them to realize that art is EVERYWHERE and does not need to be material specific," shared Ms. Tucci. "The labels 'painting, drawing,' and 'sculpture' are arbitrary since there is such intense crossover and often times artists work in a few different ways."

"It's really cool," commented a classmate.

"She doesn't do this with random people," pointed out Nora. "She only does people she knows which I find really interesting."

"What's the average time it takes for her to make a portrait?" asked a student.

"I looked that up," said Nora. "It's months."

Elsa Holleran '26 shared the highlights of Sarah Sze who is known for sculpture and installation pieces.

"She is really creative and I like how it's installed," said Elsa. "I'm used to painting and drawing. She does more sculpture and collage. I would not have thought about doing art like that."

"I like all of her colors and they are like a twirl," observed a student.

"There is no one accepted art style, and you can be successful creating work in your own style and being unapologetically yourself," explained Ms. Tucci. "Artists fail constantly until they finally get it right; artists both young and old make a difference."

"I really like my artist because he only uses one thing," observed a student.

"I was very proud, particularly of their takeaways from the pieces," said Ms. Tucci. "Some really didn't choose the pieces I expected and it was clear they went on a deep dive into the oeuvre of the artist."

"Can I go next!" asked a student who was excited to share what he learned about Ghanian sculpture El Anatsui.