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The Great Circle

Artist-In-Residence Program

The arts play a crucial role in helping children explore and understand the world around them. As school districts are finding themselves in increasingly tight budget situations, they are looking for alternative ways to offer arts programming. In response, The Rockwell Museum stepped in with the changing landscape of Elmira, NY, a neighboring community.

When the funds were cut for in-school and out-of-school experiences, we partnered with the district and teaching artist, Aleta Wynn Yarrow, to create The Great Circle: Artist-In-Residence program. The program, which currently focuses on first-grade classes in the Elmira City School District, was piloted at Diven Elementary School in 2013 and is now implemented across all first-grade classes in each of the District’s four elementary schools.

Work in Progress

A clay animal in production, inspired by a visit to The Rockwell Museum.

Bunny

The residency program provides opportunities for students to use different types of art media. "Bunny" was created as part of the 1st grade curriculum related to animals and their habitats.

Movement

Teaching artist, Aleta Wynn Yarrow, engages students through movement.

Reading Group

Aleta Wynn Yarrow, teaching artist, is reading The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle which illustrates natural cycles in nature. The book is also used to show examples of how Carle uses paper and color.

Paper

Students create Eric Carle-inspired collage paper, creating using water soluble crayons. Students make science connections with states of matter: solid/liquid.

Art Projects

A student demonstrates cutting geometric shapes to create a circular book about plants cycles, insects and animals.

Student Drawing

A student draws a sun on a collaborative classroom picture illustrating circular objects that exist in nature.

Reading Group

Students hear a story about the "Garden of Fire" about plants, animals, and the land.

Drawing Habitats

During the Museum visit, students learn about animals and their habitats. Students draw pictures to illustrate what they have learned.

Pottery

Students eagerly view Southwestern pottery with a Museum docent.

Building Landscapes

Students build a 3-D landscape inspired by the artwork in The Museum.

In 2016 The Rockwell Museum was selected to receive a grant of $19,950 from The Edith Saxton Fund for Steuben County Youth Services, administered through the Community Foundation of the Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc. The three year grant further supports The Rockwell’s Great Circle Program for students in the Bath Central School District. The program was implemented at Vernon E. Whightman Primary School – Bath, NY in the spring of 2017.

The residency began with 7 classrooms and now serves over 500 students across two districts annually. 

The goal of the Great Circle Artist-in-Residence program is to unify learning across all first-grade curriculum content. Students build upon and synthesize grade level concepts, including folktales and legends, animals and habitats, geometry, astronomy, earth sciences, and learning about museums and the Lakota tribes of the Great Plains.

Artist Aleta Wynn Yarrow works with each first-grade classroom five times during the residency, including one visit to The Rockwell. Students explore the overall theme of the Great Circle, and all topics are designed to complement the New York State Common Core curriculum, encouraging students to look at new ways to understand associated concepts. The Rockwell Museum is uniquely poised to help enhance the art curriculum in the public schools. 

District-wide implementation for all first-grade students in the Elmira City School District has been made possible in part with the support from the Anderson Foundation, Inc., Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc., Hardinge Anderson Evans Foundation, The Hilliard Foundation, M&T Bank, and The Tripp Foundation.  

District implementation for all first-grade students in the Bath Central School District has been made possible by the generous support from the Edith Saxton Fund for Steuben County Youth Services. The Saxton Fund is administered and managed by the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc.

The Rockwell is actively seeking additional contributions to continue this important educational initiative. For information, contact The Rockwell’s Office of Development at 607.974.2810.

About the Artist

Aleta Wynn Yarrow is the artist-in-residence of The Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY, Smithsonian affiliate. As a fine artist and education consultant, she has worked with all ages, including tens of thousands of students through artist-in-residence programs. She has taught in projects funded by the US Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts, and for national and international award winning projects. She received a creative arts individual fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for her innovative educational research about young children’s art.

Yarrow has worked extensively with museums, consulting with the Rockwell Museum, Arnot Art Museum, Corning Museum of Glass, and many others. She has presented at numerous conferences for professionals in museums, Early Childhood and Art Education. She has been a keynote speaker for Pennsylvania Association of Art Educators.

Lush colors of a summer garden, meditative views of the night sky through tall trees, and first evening stars reflected on water are all familiar subjects of Wynn Yarrow’s landscapes. Her work is known for evocative color and exquisite detail reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts of the Early Renaissance. Yarrow’s work is in the permanent collections of Hershey Medical Center and Gettysburg College. Her work has been exhibited at the Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY; Cornell Botanic Gardens, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY; Northeast Seminary, Rochester, NY and numerous other solo and invitational exhibitions. She was selected by national competition for a month long art residency at Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton CT, the only National Park devoted to art. Wynn Yarrow’s landscapes are represented by West End Gallery, Corning, NY; Creative Center, New York, NY; Artforce LLC, Minneapolis, MN; Distinctive Art Source, Manassas, VA; and Artful Home, Madison, WI.

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