Monday, September 7, 2015

Art Trade with Denmark

I have waited a long time to share this post, but I'm proud to do so now!  Last year our 3rd grade created art and sent it to a trade in Japan.  As it arrived in Japan, we were informed that the school would no longer be able to trade.  So there it was, about 150 3rd grade works of art sitting in Japan.  Now what... I put the message out to the blogging world to see if anyone else would be willing to trade... and Lisbeth Reinholdt replied.

The video above shows the three works we sent to Japan/Denmark

Ms. Reinholdt is from Denmark and she has a blog called Bidt Af Billedkunst! or 'Bitten By Art', Great name for a blog... Right?  Just looking at her blog and you get the feeling of what a dedicated educator she is.  She is also a practicing artist as well.  The cool thing about Google is that if you go to her blog, you can hit translate, and you will be able to read her genius ideas in any language you want.

We sent our work to Denmark and this much smaller school started working on art to send back.  Lisbeth was great at updating us along the way.  She explained her projects, all were traditional to Denmark and she shared video and questions that her kids had for us.  We created a video to send back to her class to explain some of the questions they had.  They too shared a video with us, however I don't have permission to share the video on my blog.  I will share ours that we sent to them.

Here are some of the pictures that were sent to us.  This is how they displayed and celebrated our work in their school.

We got this beautiful artwork at the end of the school year.  It was awesome!!! Too awesome to not celebrate it in a BIG way... so I held onto it until this school year.  The now 4th grade will take a look at and learn from the beautiful artwork.  They will each get a work of art to bring home with them.  Their very own work of art from Denmark.  How cool is that?  First I wanted to share it with the school.

The work was very organized and explanations of the projects were sent to me via email.

I have a HUGE display board that this year will be housing our PBIS celebration and our schoolwide theme... Super Heroes (more to come on that later).  I welcomed parents and students to our school for open house this year displaying this artwork from Denmark.

Here are the many artworks shared... This work was inspired by,  Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.  What are you kidding me?  They have a queen who loves and practices Art?  That is so cool.  Lisbeth writes...

Queen Margrethe II has not only been ruling the Danes since 1972 (she's the first female monarch of Denmark since the 1300s!), but she's also an accomplished painter and fashion designer. As it turns out, Her Majesty is actually an accomplished painter who shows her artwork regularly under the pseudonym "Ingahild Grathmer." (Google it!) Some of her paintings were used for the 1977 Danish edition of The Lord of the Rings.


Since 1970, HM The Queen has been actively engaged in a number of artistic modes of expression: painting, church textiles, watercolours, prints, book illustrations, decoupage works, scenography and embroidery. Many of these artistic works have been shown in connection with exhibitions in Denmark and abroad.The Queen’s artistic works are represented at the following art museums:

  • Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark), 
  • ARoS Aarhus Art Museum,  
  • Køge Art Gallery Sketch Collection (sketches for church textiles).
The Queen designed a whole series of 43 decoupages as well as a number of costumes (12) for the film of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale ‘The Wild Swans’.

This work is an example of the Queens work.

This is an example of students work.

Students work

Students work
This was really wonderful too!  The students of Ms. Reinholdt's school took photos of their backyard (at school).  These works fo art below are 'pictures of spring in Denmark'.  How cool is that?  We got to see the flowers and foliage of Denmark from the perspective of children.

It's hard to pick a favorite project, but perhaps this is mine.  I have never heard of this... she explains that it is called Secret Snow Drops Letters (Gaekkebreve).  Again, explained by Lizbeth...

Secret snowdrop letters are a pure Danish thing.  You fold a piece of paper and cut out different shapes (paper cutting).  Then you write a little poem on it. You DON'T sign your name.  You draw a large dot for every letter of your name.  If the person who receives the letter guesses who it comes from, you have to give them an Easter egg. But if they can't guess, they have to give you an Easter Egg. So disguise your handwriting and be creative.

The final touch is to pick a snowdrop from your garden, or draw one if need be, add it to the letter and send to a friend.  Keep your fingers crossed that they don't guess who it's from.

Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,
Omen true of hope divine.
From the heart of winter bring
They delightful hope of spring.
Guess my name I humbly beg.
Your Reward: An Easter-Egg

Signed with dots for every letter of your name.

More art was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen.  Lisbeth writes...

To Hans Christian Andersen paper was not meant to be media for the written word only. Paper - it seems - represented the basis for his imaginative expressing. Throughout his life Hans Christian Andersen was an addict to paper. He wrote on it, he drew on it - and he used it to cut in. Like the ancient expression that he form and art was hidden in the stone, only to be revealed by the sculptor, the poet used his material - the paper - to engrave, or rather to carve out his ideas with ink. And more radically he used his unexpected monstrous scissors to cut out the most elegant figures.

In order to amuse his friends and their children Hans Christian Andersen made his paper cuts. Hans Christian Andersen was in fact a very popular paper cutter. In almost every memoir made by his acquaintances a recollection over this activity of the author is made. There is no straight connection between the author’s paper cuts and his fairy tales, but he used to accompany his paper cutting with a fantastic tale, and end the tale by unfolding the paper to the amazed listeners.

The paper cuts were not only meant to be a pleasure for the eye but also a challenge to the mind. Often there was a hidden meaning in the paper cuttings - in the same way, as we know it from the fairy tales: on the surface it could amuse, in the depth it would amaze. Some of the paper cuts are purely picture puzzle or rebus others are icons combined to represent a linguistic symbol.

The double meaning hidden in the paper cuts demonstrates the way of thinking of the fairy tale author. It reveals an utmost modern way of thinking, using the word not as a media to create meaning but as a material of meaning itself.

Then she got the younger kids to participate in this trade as well.  This is the 1st-grade students, Vikings inspired artwork.  Lisbeth sent some wonderful examples of Viking art such as the work below.

The students painted the Vikings work.  What is really neat is Minnesota's professional football team is the Minnesota Vikings.  So This art will be a hit with a lot of our kids.

The last bit of art was created by the 2nd grade.  I love this project too... wait... I might have said that about all the artwork, but it's true.  These little artist did a wonderful job!  The project that was shared from the 2nd grade was inspired by, 'Princess and the Pea', the fairy tail.

Check this out.  The castle is decorated and cut to the shape of a castle.... but wait, there's more.  The castles open up to expose the interior.  This shows the Princess, and other aspects of the story.  Each of these were each unique works of art!  I'm totally doing this with my students, they will love it!

I can not express enough how powerful this exchange with Denmark has been and will be for my students, staff, and community.  I learned so much and can't wait to share it all with our young learners. Lisbeth Reinholdt is an excellent teacher who has impacted the experience of her students, and now 800 more from the state of Minnesota in the U.S.A.  Thank you so much students of Denmark!


  1. THIS IS AWESOME!!!!! Did you send a piece from every student? and do you receive your artworks back? (sorry if that was mentioned above...) I have friends in Denmark and would love to do something like this with my Ss... even if it is somewhere else!!! We did a cultural unit last year featuring China... wished I had done a trade over there... this year is going to be Egyptian... hhhmmm... thinking!!!
    Thank You so much for sharing!!!
    K-3 Visual Arts Teacher -Indiana

    1. We did a trade with our whole 4th grade... the art is a gift to the other school, and their art is a gift for our school. Glad this post got the wheels spinning.

    2. Its been SO great to be a part of this! Such a wonderful experience for both me and my students. :-)

  2. This is such a wonderful project exchanging culture through art :)