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Teachers visit Andy Warhol Museum for open house

By Lori Pometo

Point Park News Service

Teachers take part in the open house, held at the Andy Warhol Museum.

Sarah Wilt plans to add a “Warhol Unit” in her adaptive class to increase their knowledge and learning skills.

Amanda Smatchko plans to have her students create Warhol-inspired portraits to show them the relation between themselves and art.

Cat Wapenski sees art as a way to nurture her 3-year-old students while fine-tuning their motor and cognitive learning skills.

Local teachers from the Pittsburgh area attended the annual Fall Teacher’s Open House Thursday, Nov. 1, at the Andy Warhol Museum, searching for relatable ways to produce more art education in the classroom.

More than 60 teachers piled in the Warhol for a relaxing opportunity to mingle and learn about the native Pittsburgh artist and his art.  The main goal for many of the teachers was to find practical ways to implement art into their classrooms.  Teachers created their own take-home silkscreen images of some of Warhol’s more famous pieces and headlines.

Wilt is in her third year of teaching art at Northgate High School in Bellevue. She plans to use her “Warhol Unit” by focusing on the Pop Art movement.  Her, adaptive, or special needs students will mimic Warhol’s famous “Marilyn” silkscreen by creating their own portraits giving them ownership of the project.

“[The project] will not only allow them to produce a physical product, but allow them to work with their hands and fine-motor skills,” said Wilt.

Smatchko has been teaching Pre-K at The Goddard School in Wexford for five years.  She is planning a lesson involving a similar idea to Wilt’s that will include her students using oil pastels to smudge on black and white printouts that she says will “look just like a real Warhol print.”

She also agrees that art education, especially with special needs students is vital.

“It’s cross-curricular and helps to tie in other subjects that they’re not very involved in,”  Smatchko said.

Fellow Goddard preschool teacher, Wapenski is also in her fifth year of teaching. She wants to not only teach her students about Andy Warhol but also about many other artists in an upcoming lesson she called “Week of Artists.”

She hopes to relay to them that “even their scribbles are something to be proud of.”

Wapenski wants her students to be encouraged to grow and learn through the use of art.

A slideshow presentation by Nicole Dezelon, the Associate Curator of Education started the program.

It focused on a recent trip to Singapore with Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts students that showcased the museum’s continuing work to promote expression through art education across the world.

CAPA students met and worked with art students in Singapore.

The Warhol has its own website dedicated to providing resources, art-related lesson plans and activities to educators.

Teachers were treated to an hour long reception in the entrance of the museum that kicked-off the evening and included drinks accompanied by a buffet-style dinner and desserts.

“It’s absolutely imperative to get kids to be creative and think outside the box,” Wilt said.

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