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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Beauford Unites Elementary School Students in Paris and Knoxville

One of the projects that has emerged from the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition is an amazing collaboration called Classes Duo Paris/Knoxville.

Through a partnership between the Wells International Foundation (WIF) and the City of Paris' CASPE* administrative service, it connects two schools - Jean Zay Elementary School in Paris and Nature's Way Montessori School in Knoxville, TN - through Beauford's life and art.

On November 20, WIF held the first teleconference for the educators and administrators who will create the lesson plans and handle the logistics of running the program. The students will interact through video conferences and will work on art projects between conferences. They will share their works during the video conferences and on one or more online platforms.

Sixteen (16) students from Jean Zay have been selected to participate in the program. These children are already being inspired by Beauford's paintings to create their own portraits and abstracts.

Jean Zay Elementary School in Paris
© Wells International Foundation

The selection process for the sixteen (16) students from Nature’s Way is underway.

Nature's Way Montessori School in Knoxville
Photos courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori School

The educators from both sides of the Atlantic have submitted lesson plans that encompass drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and written correspondence.

Themes to be addressed include places Beauford lived in Paris and Knoxville, several artistic styles that inspired his works, places he traveled and the modes of transportation he used, self-portraiture, and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

For the latter, students from both schools will view images of Beauford's Rosa Parks series of paintings and learn how Beauford followed the movement from Paris.

Rosa Parks
(1967) oil on canvas
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator
Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

They will also learn about key figures in the movement, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. Paris students will be able to visit the Rosa Parks recreation center, the Rosa Parks regional train station, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. park that are located in Paris.

Espace sportif Rosa Parks
© Discover Paris!

Rosa Parks Station - RER E
© Discover Paris!

Parc Clichy Batignolles - Martin Luther King
© Discover Paris!

Jean Zay Elementary School is literally a five-minute walk from what used to be 53, rue Vercingétorix - the location of Beauford's last studio. The students have already been inspired by the proximity of a place so important to the artist they are studying.

The building in which Beauford's studio was located has long since been destroyed. A small plaza has taken its place.

Rue Vercingétorix
© Discover Paris!

In keeping with WIF’s strategy to incorporate as many of its Strategic Focus Areas (SFAs) as possible in its programs and activities, several Classe Duo lessons will encourage the students not only to engage in artistic activities (The Arts), but also to think about science and math (STEAM Education). WIF's Literacy SFA will be incorporated through the letters that the children will write to each other.

To incorporate its Travel/Study Abroad SFA, WIF is planning a travel component through which Knoxville students can visit Paris and Paris students can visit to meet their video/pen pals and see the places where Beauford lived and worked.

For many - if not most - of these children, this will represent their first trip abroad.

The first video conference is scheduled for January 12, 2018.

Watch this blog for updates on how the program progresses!

*CASPE - Circonscription des Affaires Scolaires et de la Petite Enfance

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