Welcome to Art at PS41!
My name is Toni Ann Serratelli and this is my 16th year working as an Art Teacher at PS41. One of my main goals in the Art Room is to support each child’s individual approach to making art while he or she searches for meaningful, personal solutions and responses. Exposing children to an array of media is extremely important to this goal since different media encourage various types of grips and muscle control. I am a painter myself so my program focuses on various types of painting and drawing but your children will also have months of plaster, wood, collage and clay work. Not every child loves every art material, but I hope for each child to feel at ease touching and working with a variety of media and perhaps discover a love for a new process. I strive for the Art room to be a place where children feel self-assurance and encouragement, where they feel comfortable with all of our materials, respect them and aren’t afraid to try new techniques. The program I developed embraces a range of approaches: projects are media-based, influenced by art history and current exhibitions in New York, aid to enforce themes studied in the classroom or derived from a child’s personal experiences and memories. Projects in each grade build upon one another to enforce previous lessons and instill a sense of confidence and mastery.
This year, I will be working with grades K-5 during the regular school day and acting as a liaison between PS41 and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Two years ago, I participated in a Teacher Exchange Program at the Whitney and last summer PS41 was selected as Whitney Partnership school. We are fortunate to have the Whitney in its amazing new building as a resource within walking distance of PS41. I love working with Whitney Educators to build projects into my curriculum based on what the PS41 children will view there while on their tours.
My own children have been great teachers to me. My daughter is now in 4th grade and my son is in Kindergarten. Having children in both the Upper and Lower Grades truly helps me build new lessons and also helps to rethink previous projects and how they can be done to best support different developmental stages. I feel so lucky to have been able to immerse myself in the early childhood years of art making both at home and at PS41. I love bringing what I have learned from my own children into the classroom, specifically how drawing becomes a true vocabulary with very specific recurrent themes and symbols. In the Art room, I hope to encourage your children to notice a relationship between their own personal, expressive drawing approach to that of painting: Are the approaches different or similar? Do they help one another? How? Does painting feel freer than drawing or the other way around? Are there certain ideas/characters/things repetitively drawn? What are the stories behind them and how do these stories change over time? These are some of the questions that I would like to explore with your children this year.
Sketchbook Journals and folders will be kept in the Art room and come home at the end of the year while larger paintings, drawings and sculptures will come home as completed. If you don’t see drawings or paintings coming home each week, please do not worry and know your child is making work every single time they come to the Art room. Sometimes the work does not come home the same day your child has Art—drawings may be held in their folders then reviewed with the child or used to make larger paintings, paintings may be wet or put on display around the school, but all work eventually comes home! And when work is put on display, I send a note home in your child’s classroom folder so you know!
I have a MFA in Painting & Printmaking from Tyler School of Art, another Graduate Degree in Art Education from Bank Street College of Education Parsons School of Art and a BFA in Painting with a minor in Biochemistry and Nutrition. I worked four years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with school groups and teaching drawing classes to 6th & 7th grade students who were building portfolios to enter Art programs in High Schools around the city. While there, I received a Fulbright Grant to Italy for my own studio work, Painting and Etching, and I feel that much of my formative education occurred during the six years I taught and studied in Florence and Rome, Italy. Since 2000, I taught undergraduate Drawing courses and a graduate Seminar in Contemporary Art & Aesthetics at Montclair State University in NJ. Before I stared working at PS41, I had been teaching a summer Drawing course at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. I remained doing so for 8 summers, but took a hiatus from that position to use the summers to work on my own painting in my Brooklyn Red Hook studio while enjoying my young children (who often come with me to work at my studio—they have their own set-up there also.) I paint in my Red Hook studio as much as possible---and often run along the Brooklyn waterfront to get there. Running has been important to me my whole life. Having a studio close to the waterfront that inspires a lot of my painting and nearby the Red Hook running track are great incentives to get to work in my studio after a quick run!
I look forward to a great year of Art together with your children!
Please do not hesitate to contact me at: TSerratelli@ps41.org
The PS41 Art page will soon post my Art Curriculum by grade so you can see what your children will be focusing on each month.