From street art to Leonardo da Vinci and Van Gogh, students at St. John’s Episcopal School are learning about a wide variety of genres and replicating some of them through Art in Action.

Art teacher Tama Coskrey instructs every grade from kindergarten through eighth at St. John’s. She also teaches 3-year-olds in the morning.

On a recent Wednesday, the class was taking a break from Art in Action writing their names in the form of street art.

St. John’s Episcopal student Vianey Lujan, 9, decorates a street art inspired drawing of her name during art class Wednesday, March 2, 2022 at St. John’s Episcopal School. (Odessa American/Eli Hartman)

Several students had been asking the difference between street art and graffiti, and what’s legal and what’s not, Coskrey said.

“I knew some about it, but I didn’t know a lot. I did a lot of research on it. We pulled out Melbourne, Australia, and in Melbourne, Australia, they actually have what they call graffiti alley. They’ve got five blocks that it’s totally legal to do their spray paint art in that area,” Coskrey said.

Last year, the middle school students learned about the late “Joy of Painting” host Bob Ross after asking Coskrey about it for a long time.

Even though it wasn’t part of their curriculum, they learned about the late “Joy of Painting” artist and did an oil painting.

In addition, Coskrey teaches Art in Action, which introduces students to Fauvism, abstract and the masters and more.

“We learn about an artist and then we study one of their pieces in depth and then we look at several of their pieces that they have studied. And then we either try to copy that piece and draw it, or we draw something in the in the style of it,” Coskrey said.

When the kindergarten students were studying Van Gogh they created his Sunflower piece in chalk, Coskrey said.

They studied the artist George Bellows, drew the different figure and poses and acted it out.

“We learned about him and learned that he actually was recruited to be a pro baseball player, but he loved art so much that he chose to go into art. His love was actually drawing boxing,” Coskrey said.

St. John’s Episcopal student Grant Crutcher, 9, decorates a street art inspired drawing of his name during art class Wednesday, March 2, 2022 at St. John’s Episcopal School. (Odessa American/Eli Hartman)

She added that Bellows often drew himself into his work.

This is the fifth year for Art in Action and Coskrey’s 11th year at St. John’s, but she taught in public school previously for many years.

The students have also learned how to make wire sculptures and arrange them in scenes where the mini sculptures are dancers or basketball players.

Grant Crutcher, a 9-year-old fourth grader, said he thinks learning about street art has been very fun.

“I like this class a lot,” Crutcher said.

Of the artists he has learned about so far, he likes Salvador Dali best.

Head of School Heather Kirk said the artwork is hung in the hall and then the students get to take it home.

Vianey Lujan, 9, said she likes the street art.

“I think it’s really beautiful. I like it. I like how it’s … designed, how all the artists make it. It’s beautiful,” Lujan said.

Coskrey said street art goes back to caveman days and there is a difference between it and vandalism. She said they have discussed asking for permission to paint something before going ahead.

Asked about the street art, 9-year-old Braxton Brown said from what he had learned so far, “Some of it can be vandalism and some of it can be realistic art that people have, so it’s not vandalism or a type of crime.”

Brown said he likes more realistic art, as opposed to cubism.

Nine-year-old Easton Gonzalez, who turns 10 today, said he’s really enjoying the street art they are learning about — and doing — right now because they have different shapes.

Gonzalez also has wide-ranging taste in artists.

“I like mostly all artists; mostly because they’re better than me,” he said.

St. John’s Episcopal student Ty Rinker, 11, decorates a street art inspired drawing of his name during art class Wednesday, March 2, 2022 at St. John’s Episcopal School. (Odessa American/Eli Hartman)

Coskrey said Gonzalez likes to explore different styles and likes to draw.

Coskrey said Art in Action began five years ago after former Head of School Emily McDoniel asked if she would be willing to start it.

Three eighth-graders, Britton Morrow, Ethan Urias and Carson Nevill, all 14, are working on painting furniture to be auctioned off as part of an upcoming St. John’s fundraiser, the Blue and Red Bash.

Morrow said the class has allowed him to get more in depth on well-known artists.

Nevill said he liked learning about the Mona Lisa and why da Vinci created it.

Urias said he liked learning about pop art and how dots were used to show color.

Morrow said he liked the abstract painting they’re doing for the furniture right now.