Art Teacher Brings Public Instillation to the Classroom

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

For kids, art beyond finger painting and coloring in the lines can often be a difficult thing to grasp. The finer details of masterpieces like the Mona Lisa, or The David are often lost on them, not to mention trying to explain modern art that is difficult enough for adults to comprehend.

Middle School Art Teacher Adam Kreutinger of St. Mark’s school in Buffalo, New York has started taking a novel approach to teaching art to kids, and strangely enough it will mean putting on a dress and a giant shark head for his students this Fall.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery of Buffalo, New York recently began a program designed to create accessible public art installations. The first of these installations is a piece known as “Shark Girl.”

“Shark Girl” is a seated sculpture of a young woman in a blue dress with the head of a shark that sparked a social media frenzy in Buffalo and has been an immensely popular addition to the city.

Kreutinger is a self taught costume and puppet designer, and made a nearly picture perfect costume of “Shark Girl.” He intends to wear the costume in his classrooms as a humorous way of teaching his students about the piece and helping them to engage in the installation.

Humor is a key part of the classroom environment that Kreutinger has created. In the past, he constructed wearable versions of famous paintings like “American Gothic” where his students could insert their faces. He has also created a puppet character named Lily who he pre records and pretends to Skype occasionally for his students.

With costumes, props, and kooky characters, Kreutinger has been able to spark a lasting interest in art in his students that makes donning the dress this Fall more than worth it. Teachers across the country might find that bringing a little humor to the classroom might just mean students will take a lot more with them when they leave.