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Yelk, Sam

Email: sam.yelk@spps.org

Mr. Yelk

I am so excited be part of the philosophy and excellence of Linwood-Monroe Arts Plus. This is my 17th year teaching, ten of which have been with St. Paul Public Schools. I was born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin and am a Packer Fan.

My “partner in crime” is a fifth grade teacher in the district and we have 2 children that attend school in the district as well, second grade and 7th grade. The activities that I enjoy in my free time are; mosaic work, running, drinking coffee, finding books about art, and spending time with my family.

The first year in the art room all students started their journey with a self-portrait. This was an abstract portrait that had the possibility to be as realistic as the student intended. We discussed why artists may choose themselves as the subject and why this can show the audience how the artist sees the world around them.

The students started with a digital image of themselves. The class decided on one color for their background to show unity.  Once the background was complete they moved to the image of themself.  They started with the eyes and teeth (if smiling with teeth). Next the topic of skin tones was discussed.  Each student had to select construction paper that best represented their skin. This allowed the students to talk to each other and share how they see color. They moved to hair color and finished with their clothing. The final part of the work was the writing. Each student wrote an artist statement about his/her work. This is something they do with each lesson. Students also participated in the evaluation of their work. A rubric was introduced that connected the work with the Minnesota State Standards to help each child assess their success.

Every year we review and continue the journey along the Art History Time Line. We restart back at the beginning of art during the Paleolithic Era. This discussion involves why the artist chose particular images to put onto the cave wall. Students describe the historical context that influenced the creation of visual art. They create connections to cave art and themselves through human and animal representations, depending on their grade level. Each grade level will use different tools and techniques with this assignment.

As the school year continues, so does the journey through the art history timeline. Students cover several different cultures and span all around the world. If time allows, we could end our year with the artwork of today.  We will cover as much of the timeline as possible knowing that you can’t cover everything.