Connecting to the Core Curriculum

The Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland have collaborated to offer “Connecting to the Core Curriculum: Building Teacher Capacity for Arts Integration with Prism.K12.” Now in its second year, this course introduced Prince George’s County Public School teachers to the Phillips’s Prism.K12 methodology. Through a set of six strategies and a suite of online resources, Prism.K12 helps teachers develop rigorous arts-integrated lesson ideas for the classroom. Throughout the semester, students gained a working understanding of how to integrate the visual arts into the K-12 core curriculum using Prism.K12 strategies and tools, as well as online resources. Through in-person and online engagement, the blended learning course allowed for an authentic digital experience that expanded participating teachers’ technological skill sets and familiarity with web and social media platforms. The course offered in-depth professional development for the Maryland-based educator community, which is nationally recognized for its commitment to arts integration and innovative programming.


Paul Klee, The Way to the Citadel, 1937, Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard, 26 3/8 x 22 3/8 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1940

Paul Klee, The Way to the Citadel, 1937, Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard, 26 3/8 x 22 3/8 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1940

TEACHER: S. Dmitri Lipczenko
SCHOOL: Glenarden Woods Elementary
CLASS: Visual Art, Grade 3
PRISM.K12 STRATEGIES: Compare, Synthesize
ARTWORK INSPIRATION: Paul Klee, The Way to the Citadel and Castle and Sun, and photos of neighborhoods, cities, and architecture in the US and other parts of the world

Through this math-integrated art lesson, students created a cityscape collage by cutting and organizing geometric shapes, and used proportions to create a sense of depth/distance. Students studied two paintings by Paul Klee and COMPARED the shapes the artist used in his compositions. They also studied pictures of actual structures to search for “hidden” shapes. Students employed the elements of art for texture and principles of design for proportion. By combining their concepts and skills, students SYNTHESIZED their own cityscape collage.

Samples of student artwork

Samples of artwork from Mr. Lipczenko’s class created in response to Paul Klee’s artwork


William Christenberry, Night Spot, Marion, Alabama, 1972, 1971/reprinted 1991, Dye transfer photograph, 4 7/8 x 3 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift from the Collection of William and Sandra Christenberry, 2000

TEACHER: Sylvester Felder
SCHOOL: Thomas S. Stone Elementary
CLASS: Art, Grades K-5
PRISM.K12 STRATEGIES: Connect, Express, Synthesize
ARTWORK INSPIRATION: William Christenberry’s photographs

The purpose of this arts-integrated project is to demonstrate the connection between the visual artist and the poet. By studying the photographs of William Christenberry, students are able to see the use of text in his images and further interpret the sense of mood and expression of the subject matter he chose. Students SYNTHESIZED their study of text and mood into artist’s books by combining many elements and aspects of the creative process. They EXPRESSED themselves in their photos and poetry, CONNECTED their theme to their drawings, and used a variety of materials to synthesize their books. Poetic styles include free-verse, diamante, found, and haiku.

Samples of artwork from created in response to William Christenberry's artwork

Samples of artwork from Mr. Felder’s class created in response to William Christenberry’s artwork

Come visit the Phillips’s Community Exhibition galleries (Sant Building, Lower Level 2) through April 28 to see more student artwork. This exhibition represents the latest efforts in the Phillips’s long standing dedication to arts integration and showcases arts-integrated projects created by students in the classroom through curricula developed by teachers as they progressed through the course.

Learn more about Prism.K12 at

A Soundtrack for Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party

Gallery Educator Donna Jonte leads a school tour with Pierre-August Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Photo: Britta Galanis

One of my favorite things about working at the Phillips is catching a group of young kids on a school tour. Just the other day, as I was taking notes in the galleries, a small stampede of children all donning the same bright yellow t-shirt came in and sat down in front of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party.

As they discussed this work, I was taken to places I had never been with it before. First they spent some time talking about the subjects of the work. The children noticed the people, the setting, and different elements such as what food was on the table. But then they went “inside” the painting. Each child demonstrated what sounds they thought they would hear if they were actually in the painting. One said a bee buzzing; another mentioned the dog and how it might be barking, while the woman holding it made “kissy” noises. Others suggested whooshing of the wind, rustling leaves, and the trickling of the water far in the distance. Then, when directed, they all together made these sounds, creating a soundtrack for the work.

Before this encounter, I looked at Luncheon of the Boating Party in a totally different way. I spent time noticing the artist’s talent in making the glass and liquid in the foreground shimmer. I noticed the composition, or the painterly style so common with the impressionists of this time. These kids (and Gallery Educator Donna Jonte, who led the exercise) helped me take a step back and stop obsessing over the pictorial. They helped me to appreciate this work for what it is: a captured moment in time.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern

Dispatches: Drawing with Children in Morocco, Part 2

Last year, Phillips Head Librarian Karen Schneider spent time in the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco, teaching drawing to school children. She recounts the experience in this two-part blog post. See Part 1 here


Students at work

Prior to my trip, my travel agent wanted to know the art project I had in mind. I was thinking that the students could draw themselves and a friend doing something together. Brigitte advised me to refrain from asking the students to depict people or animals because the people in the High Atlas Mountains practiced a conservative form of Islam that did not approve of creating images of living beings.

After introducing myself in resurrected French, my guide translated my drawing instructions into Berber. I gave the students choices: they could draw the world around them, including mountains, trees, flowers, sky, etc, or they could draw a rug and decorate it.

The students drew palm trees, rainbows, flowers, birds, insects, clouds, the sun, and a boat with a Moroccan flag. I was surprised to see that more than a quarter of the students drew people. It appears that drawing people and other living creatures is a natural part of child development and is something that cannot be easily controlled.

individual 2

Student artwork

I walked around the classroom and saw that more than half of the students drew rugs: striped rugs, rugs with zigzag designs, diamond patterns, square patterns, organic curvilinear patterns, some with writing on the outside. On the inside were stars, circles, and hearts. Most of the students drew fringe at both ends of the rug or on all sides of the rug. The students were immersed in a textile culture. They observed weavers in their small community and it was likely that they sat on rugs to relax and to eat, and they may have slept on rugs, even wrapping themselves within a rug at bedtime. I said to some of the girls, “I want the rug that you drew for my house.” Giggling ensued.

The drawing came to a natural end as most of the students finished at about the same time. They had worked for several hours and most of them made at least two or three drawings. They held their works up proudly for me to photograph. After the students finished, the teacher, my guide and I passed out small sketchbooks and a pen. The students received the supplies eagerly and I hope that they are continuing the habit of drawing.


The whole class