St. Thomas Aquinas Holds Annual Student Art Exhibit

FAIRFIELD—St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School opened its annual student art show with a reception last night for an enthusiastic crowd of families, faculty and guests. This year’s show theme was “Elements of Art” and displayed classroom work created by each grade, Pre-K through 8th grade.  Ms. Bello, St. Thomas’ Art teacher, explained how the art curriculum focuses on teaching the seven key elements of art:  line, color, value, shape, form, texture, space.   The show highlighted the art elements practiced, the techniques applied, and the various media employed:  watercolor, clay, chalk, marker, paper collage, brush & ink.   Ms. Bello commented, “Classroom instruction incorporates an interdisciplinary approach to hands-on art making, we study the influences of various significant artists such as Kandinsky, Klee, Stella, Mondrian, Rousseau; and periods of art history—modern, abstract, cubism as it relates to their projects.  Before executing their projects for this exhibit, students learned color theory; practiced techniques such as shading, blending colors, varying the weight of lines; outlined and experimented with design and layout.”

Kindergarten was inspired by the illustration style of Ezra Jack Keats in his children’s classic, The Snowy Day.  After reading the book and studying the illustration, students worked in multimedia collage to create their own scene and “selfie” using chalk painting and torn paper. The class instruction included a lesson on space, where items are placed to create a background and foreground.  They used metallic paint to mimic the reflection of glass. Students blended chalk by hand, careful to blend up to the edges of the paper.  This was also an age-appropriate exercise in dexterity.

The fifth graders studied abstract works of Frank Stella, which was immediately recognizable in the show for its use of color and geometric elements.  This project aligned with their math curriculum, as they incorporated geometric shapes, fractions, radius, perimeter and angle into their collage work. Students blended colors and explored the element of value by varying dark “shades” and lighter “tints”.

Sixth grade exhibited collages entitled “Helping Hands” made with paper and sharpie markers.  Students were challenged to make a clear distinction between foreground and background and created the illusion of multi-dimensional space using multiple art elements—color vs. black and white; geometric angle vs. freeform shape; intricate, intertwining, organic patterns vs. solid, straight lines.  Students demonstrated their advanced understanding of color theory using contrasting, complementary, analogous, and primary and secondary colors in their compositions.

Seventh-grade classes exhibited a detailed design plan along with their texturized and glazed clay plates. This project illustrated art-making as a planned process, not just a spontaneous expression.  Students developed the design, color and texture of their work in watercolor and crayon “resist”.   A resist is created when the crayon wax and water of the paint react or repel. Students experimented with color value to create an “ombre” (transition from dark to light) effect.  Once they were satisfied with the plan, they executed the final work and wrote an “artist statement” describing their process and result.

The eighth graders worked on a “Zentangle” assignment. Zentangle (or “doodle”) method is a study in mark-making, as much as it is a creative process through which the artist can achieve a state of “zen-like” calmness.  The artist incorporates imagery, patterns and symbols as means of self-expression. Students were restricted to a palette of black and white, challenging them to create the effect of texture, dimension by varying line weight, the concentration of marks, using cross-hatching techniques.  To accompany this project, 8th graders were asked to reflect on their St. Thomas experience, and write a statement about faith formation, education, friendships formed and values developed at St. Thomas.

The show closes Wednesday, May 1, but the exhibition catalog can be viewed on the school website,

About Ms. Bello
This is Ms. Bello’s 6th year as the art teacher for grades K-8 at St. Thomas Aquinas.  She earned her B.S. in Art Education at Southern Connecticut State University and her Connecticut Teaching Certification with a specialization in Ceramics.  Her honor’s thesis was incorporating Interdisciplinary Curriculum: (Physics and Art) with children’s literature and watercolor illustrations. “When I see that my technique for teaching an art concept is received with excitement, curiosity, and followed by engrossed and passionate focus, I know I’ve succeeded as a teacherUltimately, I want my students to share my enthusiasm for art and learning. It is my goal for their experience in my classroom to leave them feeling empowered as artists and valued as people. I want their experience to be exciting, intriguing, and memorable as they expand their artistic horizons.”

About St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and recognized as an award-winning Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.  For nearly 100 years in the heart of downtown Fairfield, we have served a critical role in Fairfield County by providing a strong foundation for students in faith and knowledge at an affordable cost for students in pk3-8th grade.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is conveniently located at 1719 Post Road, Fairfield.

For additional information please contact Barbara Turner, Director of Admissions, at 203.255.0556 x.225 or