It’s art show season for me, and probably for many of you. This is my second year heading up our annual art show. And, it is the second year my school had an annual art show. So, um, yeah. I thought I would share some things that I do to make my show a success.
- I start collecting works at the start of the year. I know some teachers prefer to have the students curate the show. That’s not my style. It is a matter of choice. My co-worker this year had students submit what they wanted. I am curious to see how that goes. In any case, I find that starting at the beginning of the year helps when it comes time for mounting. You can start mounting whenever you want. No need to wait until the week before or the week of.
- I print out rosters for all of my classes with a blank grid. As I collect artworks, I check off a box for that student. This helps me make sure I have something from almost every one and it helps when it is time to make labels.
- I mount all my work on black construction paper. There are a few examples that need white mats, but for the most part, black is good. I don’t have a lot of extra money or time for fancy mats. The works look good on the black construction. And, it is easy to do. I don’t mat works that are on canvas board. Those get hung as is.
- I make all the mats have a 1″ border. I created a tool to help with mounting. It is a 1″ wide “L” I cut from chip board. I can line it up with one corner of the black mat, spray the back of the artwork, and then use it to guide the artwork on to the mat. It really has helped to cut down on the time it takes to mount over 200 pieces of artwork.
- This year I had my aide help me out with labels. Last year I bought a large pack of Avery return labels. The labels fit perfectly on the 1″ border of the mat. I only put the student’s name on the label. My aide downloaded the template and uses the list I have created on my rosters so she knows how many labels to make each student.
- For 3-D artwork or non-matted work, I put the name labels on 3″X1.5″ bristol board tags. These get either placed by the sculpture or tacked on the wall just under the artwork.
- If you have ever told a high school student to tell his or her parent something, you know most likely whatever it is will never get relayed to them. So, I thought a great idea was to send invites to all the parents/guardians of the students who have artwork in the show. Here is my template. (Please note, the original was made in pages and that does not upload to google docs so well. The font on the original is a script, which makes it look a bit more fancy.) I put 4 invites on a page and print onto white cardstock. I found some envelopes at Michael’s that fit the invites perfectly. The counselor’s secretary was super nice and printed out all the “to the parents of” labels for me to make addressing them easier.
- I also send invites to the superintendent, the deputy superintendent, the head of HR, all my principals, the middle school art teacher, and the teachers and staff at the school. Their invites are the same, but I leave out the part about their young artist having work in the show. I think it is nice to formally invite my colleagues and administration.
- For other advertising, we do a couple of other things. A student created a poster this year to hang all over the school. A huge banner is being created to hang from our school’s balcony. The poster is being run in the announcement powerpoint at lunches. We shared the poster with our district PR person. He came and took pictures of the students getting things ready. He will run these pics on the district FB group. I think it will also go in the local paper. We have the poster running on the front page of the district and the high school websites. My principal set up an all-call to remind everyone about the show the night before.
- Every art show I have been to has some sort of food at the opening. This show should be no different. I have talked with the culinary teacher, and her students are going to create some yummy treats for the event. This adds a little something extra to the show.
- This year we we also be adding some music. I have talked to the band director and he agreed to have some students play some nice music during the show. He will set up on the balcony overlooking the show.
- We are having the show on a Friday evening, so I had to take when to set up into consideration. I am taking the day off for school related business. I have also hand-picked several students to help me hang all the work during the day. I contacted all their teachers and asked them if they could miss their class that day. I found last year it was kind of a pain to have new students each period helping out. I felt like a broken record and things were getting forgotten and nothing was smooth. I thought having the same group of responsible students all day would make things easier.
- We will hang all the work using poster tack. It works well on both our fabricated wall tiles and our cinderblocks. We have a few easels for larger paintings, and we have a place to hang framed work. I saw another teacher this year get the little wads of tack prepared in the days before. I haven’t done this before, but it seems like a great idea. I will ask my aides if they want to do that.
- All the sculpture work goes on round bar height tables we have at the high school. Last year I had an abundance of brown burlap, so I cut it to use as table cloths. (I was smart and bagged them up and hid them in the faculty work room for future use.) We will use those again.
- A cool thing I like to do, which unfortunately I didn’t get to this year–yet, is create QR codes for seniors. It is nice to have a little bit of info about our senior artists near their work. Students give brief responses to questions like what is your favorite media, why do you like art, and what are your plans after graduation.
- The last thing I like to do is go in over the weekend after the show and take a high-res picture of each artwork. I then edit them, put them in a slide show, and put the show on youtube and my art website. This way, those that couldn’t make the show can still view it. It’s a long slide show, but it helps to advocate for your program.
I know this seems like a lot, but if you start early enough, it is pretty easy. Organization is the key, in my opinion. I am a pretty organized art teacher, and it really comes in helpful for events like this. As I said in the beginning, this is what I do. I am sharing in case you needed some help on ways to make your show set-up easier. Use what will help you. Ignore what won’t.
Relax. Take a deep breath. And happy Art Showing!!!