I was visiting a grade three and four class in one of Winnipeg’s inner city schools as part of my job as a university faculty advisor and I saw these marvelous paintings on the wall in a classroom where one of my students is doing her practicum. The classroom teacher had introduced the children to the work of the great Canadian artist Emily Carr and then led them through a step by step process to create their own artworks in Emily’s style. The display in the classroom included photos to show how the children had experimented with color mixing, learned about contour drawing and looked very carefully at Emily’s paintings of trees. They experimented with layering shades of the same color and thought carefully about every brush stroke. The children had also written stories about what it might be like to spend time alone in a British Columbia forest the way Emily Carr did. Emily is always a favorite subject for children when I take them on tours at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I tell them about her menangerie of animals that included a pet monkey. Her animals accompained her into the forest when she went out in her little trailer she called The Elephant to camp amongst the trees and do her artwork.
A writer in Macleans magazine who eulogized Emily Carr after she died entitled her obituary She Made Trees Dance. So did the amazing students in a grade three four classroom in inner city Winnipeg who inspired by Emily and guided by a creative and enthusiastic teacher made trees come to life just like Emily did.
The photos of the students’ work have been posted here with their teacher’s permission.