JUNIOR ARTISTS: 730 students of art felt more creative being at Johor Zoo’s natural surroundings than in a classroom
JOHOR BARU: MALAYSIA Day was made more memorable for 730 junior artists who communed with Nature and had fun with the animals at the Johor Zoo.
The outing was organised by the Malaysian Junior Art Education Association, a non-profit community of private art centres for students to express their creativity in an outdoor environment.
However, it was not all fun and laughter but also serious business for them, as their artworks would be graded in the 3rd Malaysian Junior Art Assessment.
The association felt that children today, who are growing up in a highly urbanised environment, should be introduced to Nature early in life for them to cultivate an appreciation for flora and fauna.
The 730 students were among 1,154 candidates aged between 7 and 16 who took part in the art assessment held in four different locations throughout the nationWhile the Johor Baru group spent the day at the Johor Zoo, students in Muar went to a fish farm, those in Sungai Petani visited the Penang Bird Park and students in Kuala Lumpur went to Zoo Negara.
The excitement was palpable as teachers, parents and students from five art schools in Johor Baru arrived at the zoo.
Students from Myart Centre, Page One Academy, Pure Art House, Ringo Art Academy and Stee Academy came armed with drawing boards, collapsible stools and supplies for drawing and painting.
For many of the students, it was their first visit to the state zoo and their enthusiasm could hardly be contained.The teachers and helpers did an amazing job in organising them.
After taking group photos, the students were given a briefing on the do’s and don’ts of the zoo, including the care of animals and the environment, before getting their drawing assignments.
Students were given themes on which to base their artworks according to age groups, and were encouraged to express themselves using coloured pencils and pens, crayons and watercolours.
The themes were Bathing The Animals for ages 7 to 8, Animals Enjoying Breakfast for ages 9 to 10, and a self-portrait based on the animal of their choice for ages 11 to 12.
Some teenage students agreed that their day at the zoo is a refreshing change for them away from computer games and other electronic gadgets.
They were thrilled with watching animals up close, instead of glancing at them in books or on the television and movie screens. They felt that their experience in the zoo helped them to exercise self-discipline, increase their knowledge of animals and help them in their time management.
“This is a good opportunity for us to be closer to Nature, appreciate its beauty and learn to protect animals and plants from extinction,” said Ong Xinle, 15, a student from Page One Academy.
Elvis Liau, a teacher with Page One Academy, observed that the students were enjoying themselves and feeling less stressed than when they were drawing in classrooms.
He felt that the bigger space, the experience of sitting on the grass, and being close to the animals, helped the students to better express themselves.
“They are also learning to be independent in creating their own art work,” he added.
Formed in 2008, the association aims to inculcate creative development in children and instil in them a sense of pride and appreciation of their heritage in art and culture.
To achieve this, the association has training seminars for teachers, exchange programmes, experience-sharing sessions and assessments. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.