Creativity Inspiring Conservation: A Recycled Sculpture Workshop for High School Students at the Seattle Aquarium

CIC-2015-recruitment-posterI am expecting a baby in about 7 weeks.  As I’m making decisions like whether to use cloth or disposable diapers, I’ve been considering the impact of one person’s actions on our planet, which, multiplied by entire communities turn into global issues like overflowing landfills, fracking fields, suburban sprawl, deforestation, and polluted oceans. THIS is what I’m talking about.

I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate this message into my work as a teaching artist.  The Creativity Inspiring Conservation program at the Seattle Aquarium was the perfect opportunity to teach students about the consequences of our collective actions on a global scale, and to link this message with visual art.     096

Starting with salvaged cardboard boxes, students chose a sea creature to create in a 3-d sculpture.  We cut the cardboard into strips, and created an internal frame for our sculptural form.  This was the hardest part of the project – to translate a 2-d sketch into a 3-d framework that would eventually evolve into a sea otter, a nautilus, a penguin, a sea turtle, an angler fish, etc.

093  095

The students covered the framework with thin cardboard and brown paper, up-cycled from food cartons and packing materials, with the brown paper side out so that it would be an easier surface to paint.

098  099  102 Choosing from a wide assortment of salvaged and re-purposed materials, students then had the opportunity to add textural and decorative elements to their work. For example, the tentacles of this nautilus are created from stripped plastic bags, bubble wrap, food wrappers, old fishing nets pulled from Puget Sound, etc.

105  107  111

The results are large, stunning representations of the amazing creatures that live in our oceans.  These sculptures will be on display in the Seattle Aquarium galleries in the month of  August, 2015.  114119Needless to say, I’ve decided to go with reusable cloth diapers because I can’t in good conscience make the seals swim with more plastic, single-use diapers.  The seals don’t have a choice.  I do.

121

Advertisements

“Our Community” at Catherine Blaine

zentangle

zentangleAnother community art series with my good friend and colleague Carolyn Grane!  This time we worked with 3rd grade students at Catherine Blaine K – 8, right here in my own neighborhood, Magnolia.  (Seattle, WA)  The 3rd graders had been studying about the concept of community, what it means to be a member of a community, and how communities can be small groups of people to larger neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, and even larger, to the entire world.

In our first art session, students were introduced to “zentangle,” a widely popular drawing/doodling method.  If you’re not familiar with zentangle, check out the many inspiring images and techniques available on the web.zentangle

As this project is all about community, we played “pass the paper,” and had students draw for several minutes on one sheet of paper, then pass the paper to the next person and receive another doodle to elaborate on.  For some kids, it was an exercise in sharing and letting go.  For everyone, it was a chance to learn from each other, and to create something greater than one mind and one hand can accomplish alone.zentangle

Students finished the first art session with cutting out circles from tissue paper in preparation for lesson two.  We did not use templates, as we were not looking for perfect circles, but rather, taught the “chop off the corners of a square” method, which I thought was great practice in dexterity for little hands, and again, right-brain problem-solving.  I remember learning this technique in kindergarten or 1st grade, so I am always happy when I come across students who haven’t yet had that type of artistic learning, and I have the chance to share something useful and magical with them.

In the second classroom session, students cut out silhouettes of buildings, houses, and people shapes from their collaborative doodle drawings.  We also created the “fireworks” background on the panels, which would become a 15′ mural in the entryway to the school.  Additionally, the students made a mini version on paper that they could take home.  Their take-home piece tied in with a geometry lesson, as they were learning about shapes such as trapezoids, etc. and cut out these shapes to create buildings in their mini collage.

WP_003804

Finally, Carolyn and I put it all together in three panels, one for each 3rd grade class.  One class created Magnolia, an urban neighborhood near downtown with steep hills, crowded with houses and apartments.

WP_003833

The next class created the downtown Seattle skyline.

Blaine_cityscape

And the third class created the world, with dancing people all around.  The earth was created using text in the many languages that the families at Blaine speak in their homes.  There are around 15 languages spoken, and we translated various definitions of community into these languages to create a further layer of community collaboration within the piece.

WP_003830

We are so excited to see it installed!  A big thank you to Julie Cox, Principal at Blaine, who wrote for a grant from the Seattle School District to fund this program.  Also, thank you to the wonderful 3rd grade team of teachers, and the parent volunteers.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

Hero’s Journey photos: An artist residency with the EMP and Seattle Public Schools

AdamsEMPIf you could write a fantasy novel, who would your hero be?  If you could create a model of your character out of clay and found objects, what would she look like?  These marvelous sculptures are the work of a 5th grade class, who did that very thing.

AdamsEMP2They wrote a fantasy story from first person perspective, narrated by their main character.  Then, over the course of one week of art classes, they sketched and created a 3-d model of their character using clay and mixed media.  They also had the opportunity to construct a stand or platform and tools or accessories for their character using scrap wood and found objects.

This program is a collaboration between the EMP and Seattle Public Schools, connecting the arts to core curricula.  To learn more about this program, please see my earlier post Hero’s Journey.

AdamsEMP4

AdamsEMP1AdamsEMP3

Thank you to the Experience Learning Community Foundation for funding the arts in public schools.AdamsEMP5.2 AdamsEMP6

Hero’s Journey: An Artist Residency with the EMP

EMPI’m excited to be working with the Experience Music Project this year as Artist-in-Residence, in the Curriculum connections program, doing outreach with schools.

The EMP is an adventure in inspiration.  Their curators blend art, music, and technology in innovative, interactive exhibits that invite museum visitors to “play.”  Many of the exhibits delve so deeply into a topic, you could spend a couple/few hours exploring one thing.EMP_1

I especially enjoyed seeing the Hendrix exhibit.

EMP_3EMP_4EMP_2

Icons of Science FictionIcons of Science Fiction is pretty cool too.

Fantasy Worlds of Myth and MagicI am working with the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit, and connecting exhibit content to literacy/creative writing through visual art.  (*The program serves students in grades 5 – 12.)  My first session was with a 5th grade class.  Students had been writing fantasy stories, creating characters, and mapping their imaginary worlds, like Tolkien with Middle Earth or Terry Brooks with Shannara.

middle earth mapmixed media art dollWe worked on character development through drawing and sculpture, and over the course of 5 art classes in a week, they created storyboards, character studies, and a 3-d model of their main character and narrator of the story.

I decided my character here needs a bow and arrow like Katniss Everdeen to complete her Hero’s Journey.  Who would your hero be?

A huge bonus in teaching with the EMP is that the staff photographer is scheduled to come photograph the students’ work so that when the class visits the museum, photos of their artworks will be projected onto the Sky Church Screen.  What a cool experience for the kids!

Thank you to the Experience Learning Community Foundation for funding the arts in public schools.

Ceramics series at Alki Elementary

Alkiceramics_6Artist-in-Residence program for Alki Elementary, Fall 2013

Theme: Patterns in Nature

Photo credit: Karen Hinkey

In this all-school ceramics series, students grades K – 5 explored clay through three classroom sessions.  We looked at photos of patterns in nature for inspiration.  The petals of a dahlia, the veins on a leaf, an intricate spider web, the ripples when you drop a pebble in a pond.  This theme is an easy link to science and the study of the natural world.

In the first session, students learned reductive techniques such as stamping and pressing tools into the clay to make patterns.  Grades 3 – 5 also learned additive techniques, using “slip & score” to attach clay to clay and create shallow relief.

Alkiceramics_7

In the second session, while the tiles were drying and being fired in the kiln, we worked on a different clay project, learning hand-building techniques to create 3-d creatures and gargoyles.

Nicole holding a clay gargoyle clay gargoyle

Students learned to create and combine pinch pots to create a hollow vessel for the creature’s body.  Then they practiced using slip and score to make wings and other details.  This lesson is very much about the process over the product, as we used an air dry clay.  Here is a terrific discussion on process vs. product by Ann Wynne at A Room for Art.

clay creatures

This clay is nice because it’s a soft, malleable clay, which makes it easy for little hands to explore.  And they love, of course, that they get to take it home right away (YAY!) instead of waiting for a couple weeks while it dries and is fired in the kiln.  We talked about how air dry clay is not as strong or long-lasting as kiln-fired clay, and we worked on making our sculptures as sturdy as possible.  (No skinny little wisps that will break …  )  This lesson was about the experience of plunging your hands into a ball of mud, squishing it, squeezing it, trying some techniques, and transforming it into something imaginative and wonderful.

Alkiceramics_8Finally, in the third session, students glazed their bisque-fired tiles and all 400 tiles were schlepped to Seattle Pottery Supply for the final glaze firing.

Many thanks to Alki PTA, Principal Shannon Stanton for her tremendous support, Karen Hinkey for making everything run smoothly, and Pam Naspinky Bigatel for running the kiln, and to all the many parent volunteers who helped in the classes.  Thank you for supporting the arts in public schools!

ceramic tile  Alkiceramics_10 ceramic tiles

Alkiceramics_9

Alkiceramics_11

Mosaic column at Lakeridge Elementary

 

mosaicThis project started as an after school program for youth-at-risk.  Nadine Smith and I team-taught a 13-week program in drawing, painting, collage, ceramics, and mosaic for students in grades 1 – 5.

mosaic columnUsing the students’ work as a starting point, we created a design featuring orca whales (the school mascot) and an underwater scene of Puget Sound.  The kids made clay seashells, fish, and starfish, and we incorporated these ceramic pieces into the design to add some texture and dimension into the mosaic.

We did the tile-work in our studios, and now we are installing panels of tile-work onto the column.  Once all the panels are up, we still have a lot of work to do, seaming, cleaning it up, and grouting.

It’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished.

mosaic columnmosaic column

mosaic column

mosaic-column2

mosaic column

Tile installation at Cougar Ridge

CRinstallation5I keep wanting to rearrange the tiles.  All 640 of them.  And 192 filler tiles.  That’s 832 tiles on 8 boards, 3′ x 5′ each.

CRinstallationBig thanks to the many volunteers who helped us install the tiles on the boards.

Next step will be grouting and then the boards will be framed.

It brings so much color to a gray hallway, which now has become a beautiful gathering place as parents and children walk to and from the playground.  They stop and look at the tiles.  I hope they will continue to look closely and discover not only their own tile, but the beauty of all the children’s patterns in nature.

CRinstallation3CRinstallation2
For more about our process, see here and here and here