This past October, as part of the Annual Field Trip Week, our Grade 11 Arts students traveled to the coastal heritage town of Mahabalipuram, 30 kilometers south of the Tamil Nadu state capital, Chennai. The Art, Architecture and Awareness Field Trip had a three-point focus, to learn about the art (past and present) of the region, by touring sites, art galleries, artist studios.

  • Art – sketching, painting and photographing what they see;
  • Architecture – visiting and recording the temples, monuments and monolithic sculptures of the region; and
  • Awareness by deciding on a message to communicate, on an issue of ‘global importance, with local impact’.

Richard Mather-Pike, Head of the Arts Department says, “The KIS Arts program provides students with the mechanisms to assimilate and study the various artistic lenses through which cultural knowledge, both past and present has, and is, being forged and transmitted.”

The social interaction component part of the Field Trip was done ‘in situ’ on the beach, using available found materials and objects. As preparation for this, students researched in advance on sand art and site-specific art. The works were made on the beach near the shore temple, where the crowds gather. They hoped that those passing would stop to think about the larger social & environmental issues these pieces of work communicated.

The trip included a visit to the Cholamandel Artists’ Village in whose gallery students saw an exhibition of local artists’ work. They also attended a papier mache workshop where they learnt South Indian and Kashmiri techniques of this versatile medium.

Back at school, the culmination to the trip was the Field Trip Exhibition, for which students design an artwork using their sketches, photographs, and memories to create a work that communicated their experience to others. For IB Arts students, this is an integral part of the course requirements as they are artist and curator, planning, executing and displaying their art work in the space provided in the KMU Hall.

“The Field Trip was a lot of fun as it was on the coast and for us to have the ability to curate a professional exhibit really helped me understand the effort that goes into communicating my point of view”, shared Manav Patel (Class of 2020), one of the budding artists at the exhibition. The exhibit showed a diverse set of art works that included sketches, paintings, sculptures and installation work.

The exhibition offers a chance for staff and students to appreciate the skill and experience of the artists. As the Field Trip students learnt from drawing in Cholamandel Art Gallery, and in an artist’s studio, about new ideas and approaches, KIS students from other grades visit and sometimes review the exhibition, expanding their ideas on how art concepts can be communicated, on new techniques and approaches, and on display of art works. Grade 10 students in particular, use this information as they think about or plan to take IBDP Art in the next year.