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Students Find Joy in Abstract Expressionism

Eighth-grade studio art students in Andrea Schnall’s class at Lynbrook South Middle School participated in an in-class workshop with the Long Island Children’s Museum and The Willem de Kooning Foundation on April 17. The workshop was part of the Museum and Foundation’s partnership working with students in libraries and schools across Long Island.
“Not your ordinary art class, emphasis for these workshops is on process, not product,” said the Foundation’s executive director Amy Schichtel. “The goal is to help to unleash curiosity and to lead young people to push against limitations as Abstract Expressionist artist Willem de Kooning did in his art and life.”

Facilitated by Long Island Children’s Museum art program manager Lauren Plate and her assistant Sara Vernet, the two-hour workshop spanned three class periods. As a launching point, the students discussed concepts of figuration and abstraction, comparing works by de Kooning to others from art history. Outfitted in art aprons, the students then explored a range of techniques and strategies.  

“This is a fun and rigorous class of puzzling out shapes and lines by using new ways to reach fresh solutions,” said Schichtel. “De Kooning was a master at finding ways to get himself out of a corner and to overcome obstacles. Students are brought out of their comfort zones and learn to think differently about art and challenges.”

This June, each student’s artwork will be displayed among the works of over 700 other students from Long Island in a month long exhibition held at the Long Island Children’s Museum.