An International Preschool-Grade 12 Academy 

Art exhibition sparks cultural conversation

GEMS World Academy Chicago recently hosted a collection of paintings created by school-aged children in China. The works, some of them painted by children as young as 5, all revolved around a single theme: “Such a Big World...I Live in China.”

The paintings, which had previously been shown in Italy, England and the Netherlands, were displayed in the school lobby. Our Mandarin and art teachers brought students of all grade levels down to explore the exhibition.

“My students, from preschool to middle school, loved this exhibition,” said Ms. Sarah Kong, Mandarin teacher at GEMS. “I’m very excited that this exhibit brought the world to GEMS. It helps our students understand world cultures, and become global citizens.”

Students who looked at the paintings repeatedly marveled at how accomplished the art was, especially given the young ages of the artists. While reflecting on the work in class, students asked questions about life in China and considered the feelings and attitudes that their overseas peers expressed in the paintings.

Our students hope to connect with the young Chinese artists in the future for additional conversation. In the meantime, our first-graders drew sketches in response to the paintings and sent them to China with the exhibition organizers.

“The children in China are excited to see what their paintings look like in American children’s eyes,” Ms. Kong said.

News about the exhibition appeared in Chinese media outlets; stories can be found here and here.

Hosting the exhibit aligned with the overall approach to education at GEMS, which uses the International Baccalaureate curriculum framework and makes it a priority to help students develop nuanced global mindsets.

For more images of the paintings, see our Facebook gallery here.


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