For 11 years, Lloyd Cicetti taught Columbus Academy’s youngest students the wonders of art in a beautiful space at the front of the Lower School. So it’s no surprise that he was a little apprehensive to move his class and all of the necessary supplies to a smaller room with no windows. He understood the reason, though, and knew it would just be for one year, with the end result being an even better classroom and greater access to the outdoors than he’d ever had before.
“I like the concept of an early childhood center so I agreed all along that our PreK-B class needed to be closer to our other PreK and kindergarten rooms,” Mr. C said about half of Academy’s pre-kindergarten program moving into his former space. “As much as I loved that room, I had to give it up.”
Now the lower school art room is located on the lowest level of the Middle School in the former MS computer lab. It’s just temporary, however, until Lloyd can move into the area where the upper school art rooms currently exist. That will happen once David Block and Brian Kellett can relocate to the new visual arts center in a renovated Morris Hall next summer.
According to Cicetti, the transition for him became much easier when he saw the walls of the former MS computer lab painted vibrant orange, red and yellow.
“That gave me a skeleton to work with, like a palette of my own,” he said. “I bought new carpeting for the classroom part of the room where kids sit. I really like the rich red color on the wall at that end.”
That area also has a large screen and Apple TV, which allows for creativity in the digital realm.
“Each child can paint using a software program on an iPad and then take turns showing their works just by tapping the screen,” said Mr. C. “That’s the beauty of Apple TV… everybody can easily share their work.”
Outside of the carpeted end, Cicetti requested that the rest of the floor remain untiled so he could have a studio surface of polished concrete. A sealant makes it easy to clean up stains and spills, which happen frequently. And at the entrance to the room, he painted ART in big blue letters.
In addition to a sink, the school’s facilities crew brought in two large tables on wheels to provide more workspace for the students. As a final touch, a parent volunteer used a real frame from her mother’s old home to create a faux window complete with beautiful trim below and above.
“Kathy Harrison is a volunteer parent who comes in once a week for a good amount of time to help me with art displays,” Cicetti said. “She’s the one who created the window, which has a scene backlit by LED rope lights so that when you look out the window, you think you’re looking at a painting by Rousseau, who’s the artist of the month for September.”
When artwork by his students was added to the walls, Mr. C said everything came together – the window, the carpeting, the sink, the colored walls, the work tables, the studio floor – and made it feel like home.
“I’ve had middle school kids come in here and say: ‘Whoa, this is awesome!’ And my lower-schoolers can’t decide if they prefer the old art room or this one, so it’s worked out great. I love the room.”
Even feeling a little hot and humid the first few days of class didn’t discourage him. Right away, a new humidifier and AC unit were installed. Since then, the room has been dry and a comfortable 68 degrees.
“The kids are happy. I’m happy. And I’ll be even happier next year!”