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Over the past couple of months, 1st-grade classes at the Primary School had the unique opportunity to work with professional storyteller and teaching artist Tom Lee on the Ellsworth Kelly Stamp Project.

For background, in Spring 2019 The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation commissioned the artsVOYAGE program – where Mr. Lee is Artistic Director – to create a program introducing the work of American artist Ellsworth Kelly to K-12 students. The project’s launch was designed to coincide with the U.S. Postal Service releasing sheets of commemorative Ellsworth Kelly stamps.

Because of our district’s past work with Mr. Lee through artsVOYAGE and the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, Ichabod Crane Primary School was selected as one of four pilot programs for this project along with schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut.

For the recent 1st-grade projects, many of the students were introduced to postage stamps for the first time by examining, discussing and drawing vintage stamps. After this, they examined and sketched contemporary stamps, all while discussing why the Postal Service might pick particular images for stamps. Then the students wrote and mailed postcards to themselves, which was also the first time many had ever mailed a letter.

Finally, they were introduced to the new Ellsworth Kelly postage stamps with an opportunity to sketch, discuss and write about the artwork on them. Since it’s difficult for a group to examine stamps at the same time, they also looked at, wrote about and sketched large-scale reproductions of some.

They discussed shapes, colors, lines and images of the stamp paintings before eventually finding interesting shapes in their own classrooms to recreate as paper collages.