Art Teacher Amy Jones on Art Class + Recycling

AMY Jones - graphic!

At Shoplet, we applaud educators who make a real difference in their students’ lives – especially educators who stress the importance of perceiving the world through green lenses…

Welcome to Piedmont Community Charter School’s Art Class with Amy Jones! Mrs. Jones’s approach to teaching her students is unique in that she weaves lessons of history & recycling into each art project that her students tackle.

I asked Mrs. Jones a few questions about what it’s like to be such an awesome art teacher:

From where do you gather inspiration to develop new class projects?

Inspiration…life past and present.

One of my favorite teaching topics is culture of civilizations around the world and belief systems that inspired art from long ago. Materials and the way they are used show us the values and interests of the artists and people through the timeline of civilization. For instance, the Chinese painted on silk scrolls before they discovered how to make paper. The construction of great stone tombs, sculptures, and monuments of ancient Egyptians displayed unity and devotion to their leaders. Byzantine iconographers created amazing mosaics using bits of glass and stone tesserae to catch glimpses of light in the large dark structures of Christian churches.

While we are inspired by life in the past, students are encouraged to discover beauty in life around us today… .

Materials are an important part of discussion in art class; utilizing them is an essential component of the creative process. By reusing and repurposing materials in the art room, we learn to notice beauty and value seen in the world around us. There is also a fascination we all share in transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.

We learn to appreciate the molding, modeling, making, and transformation of everything from a simple sketch of a line to the creation of an ancient African tribal mask carved from ivory. “Who made it?”, “How was it made?”, “Why was it made? ”, and “What is it made of? ” are questions answered on a daily basis in our art room.

Some recent projects were kindergarten’s Native American toilet paper rolls and art club’s “Paper Mache Safari”, made with pink newspaper donated by the Charlotte Observer (left over from the “breast cancer awareness” special pink editions).


What are favorite materials?

Honestly, paper! Construction paper, tissue paper, rice paper, paper bags, wrapping paper, decorative handmade paper, and anything else in the paper category. I have two laundry baskets full of cropped paper saved from our projects that have become colorful weavings or other detailed additions to artwork.


It is so fulfilling to find that “just right” piece of painted paper, innocently cropped to improve the edges of a watercolor project; then it transforms to a pocket for a snowman or a tiny quilt patch… so valuable!

What is the value in teaching children to recycle “trash” into art? Do you believe that upcycled art projects reinforce your students’ eco-habits?

With the second graders, a momentous in-depth discussion I have about recycling starts when we look at “found object art” sculptures such as “Bulls Head” by Picasso, the head of a bull assembled from old bicycle parts.


We imagine and talk with the point of view of “Picasso”, and take an imaginary walk through the junkyard looking for things that could remind us of something interesting and can be transformed into art! We might see sticks or nails or old chairs, etc. “What could we make?”

My art club made a “found object art” sculpture last year with neighboring high school students. We used shoe boxes, paper towel rolls, bottles and bottle tops, etc.

  • Kathy Olson

    Amy, Great article! Love the photos! I want to visit your classroom.
    Love, Kathy

  • WoW , It’s Amazing :) , Nice