In the Classroom
By zwackart on May 16, 2017
I have been working with Cayuga Heights Elementary School, in Ithaca NY, on a 4′ x 15′ mosaic mural inspired by the schools values of Community, Respect, Friendliness, Safety and Self Control, Determination, Cooperation, Resilience, and Peace Making. I worked with students to help them take these abstract ideas and turn them into visual images that communicate their meaning. Together with elementary art teacher, Sarah Mountin-Locke, I combined student sketches into an overall composition. Then, students from every grade in the school, made tiles from raw clay. Some made handprints. Some made faces, figures, and other components of the design. And many students made tiles of whatever they pleased! On the first 2 Saturdays in May, we assembled all these beautiful tiles to create the mosaic panels that will hang across from the cafeteria in their school. There will be a grand unveiling on June 9th at 5:30pm, and you are all welcome to attend. Here is a preview of the work.
This project is made possible in part through grants from the Cayuga Heights Elementary School PTA, the Ithaca Public Education Initiative, and the Ithaca Fine Arts Booster Group. Thank you!
Posted in In the Classroom | Tagged art, clay, collaboration, community, Community build, Elementary school, hand print, handmade, Ithaca, mosaic, NY, peace making, public school, school, values | Leave a response
By zwackart on July 2, 2014
This is my third year teaching art classes to the students in the Cornell Upward Bound program. Today we worked on figure drawing and some portraiture, in charcoal on large format paper, with a model.
And the model is a young woman who took private art lessons from me when she was 7, and now she is 19! She is just home from her first year of college. I recognized her at the grocery store and struck up a conversation. Turns out she is still into art! Yay!!
A very positive experience all around!
By zwackart on September 30, 2012
Please join the Van Etten Elementary School community to celebrate the completion and installation of these two mosaic benches depicting the life cycle of plants. They were made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts, administered locally by the ARTS of the Southern Finger Lakes. We will hold a dedication ceremony Monday October 17th from 5:50 to 6pm at the playground to recognize the creative success of student and community artists, and Van Etten teachers and staff.
Posted in In the Classroom, Recent Projects | Tagged art, arts, arts in education, collaboration, education, grant, life cycle, local, mosaic, New York, NY, plant, public school, school, science | Leave a response
By zwackart on September 18, 2012
This Saturday in Ithaca the Food Justice Summit is happening and I will be there at the Watershed Wall to talk to folks as they do a Walkathon that winds it’s way through downtown. I will also have a table at their street fair where you can come and make a food related tile. If you choose, you can leave your tile with me to be fired and it can become part of a community created mosaic! The Street Fair will be at 210 Hancock St. in Ithaca from noon to 6pm.
By zwackart on May 24, 2011
This is the second year in a row that I have had the privilege of working with students at the Elmira Alternative High School on an arts in education project where they read a book and use it as a point of departure for their own poetry and visual art. This year the book they have been reading is the intense true story of Kevin Davis called Zebratown. It is written by Greg Donaldson and set mostly in Elmira, New York. Elmira is home to a maximum security prison that houses inmates from all over New York state. From the prison, Kevin Davis looks down on the town of Elmira and thinks it looks peaceful and imagines living there in freedom one day. Eventually he does. Zebratown focuses on a part of his life where he moves in with a white single mom and their struggle to make their lives and relationship work.
The book was hugely engaging and I read it in three days. But when I finished, I felt thoroughly depressed. I sat down and started making notes about the values of the main characters in the story, making thumbnail sketches to represent these values and try to make sense of this work of tragedy. I was thinking about representing a person by showing the layers of experience, the goals, dreams and values, as well as an image of their physical presence; a personal palimpsest. When I met with students on the first day, I asked them to make some simple sketches of their values and I gave a lesson in drawing faces using charcoal. Later we would combine these images using paint on canvas.
By zwackart on April 15, 2011
This past Wednesday, I met with four classes of third graders at Van Etten elementary school in Van Etten, New York. We talked about the fact that both scientists and artists need to use their skills of observation in their work. We used pencil, colored pencil, and crayons to draw plant specimen that the students had brought in from home. These will be the designs for the clay tiles that they will be sculpting next Wednesday.
This project was made possible in part through a Local Capacity Building Grant administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.
By zwackart on March 3, 2011
As you may have noticed on the calendar, I’ve been teaching a drawing class at the local Middle School after school. I was inspired by the snowy landscape here in rural central New York state. Sometimes the skies are much darker than the earth all covered in snow. The bright white of snowy ground is emitting more light than the sky itself! Perfect to draw in charcoal. I love how charcoal smudges. It can be intensely dark or sublimely faint and subtle. Charcoal is as old as fire, and is a completely non-toxic art material. Our first class together I had students make gradations from the lightest marks they could make to the deepest dark they could muster with many smoothly blended steps in between. They then cut these up and made the value matching tool you see in the pictures. They observed the landscape outside their school and made these sketches.
By zwackart on February 8, 2011
This is the third year in a row that I have had the privilege of being the artist in residence for the Chemung River School Project. Each year, naturalists and a poet visit with fourth graders. They get to go to the Arnot Art Museum, the History Center, and the Tanglewood Nature Center as part of a cross disciplinary study of the Chemung River that flows through Elmira, NY. This year, in what we hope is a pilot for a larger public art mosaic project, like we did in Ithaca in 2010, students made clay tiles out of raw clay using low relief sculptural techniques to describe their experience of the river. Here are some pictures of the process. There were seven classes from three schools that participated.
By zwackart on December 29, 2010
Fairy Hut Building at the Natural Phenomena Conference in Whangerei, NZ was fantastic! The whole conference took place outdoors and was dedicated to nature education for early childhood in New Zealand.
I lead a workshop with about 20 participants, most of whom were early childhood educators, in creating ephemeral, environmental installations, or FAIRY HUTS! The materials that were right at our feet were blossoms from the trees in the remarkable old growth forest, nuts, berries, fabulous mosses, fallen bark, twigs, and leaves, grasses and meadow flowers from the clearings, and even clay from down the hill in the creek.
By zwackart on October 22, 2010
Ben Franklin Elementary School in Binghamton, NY decided to make up a fable about how the skunk got it’s stripe. They called me in to help them make clay tiles to depict their narrative. They called on renown storyteller Regi Carpenter to help Ms. Culligan’s class of second graders develop their tale. Here are some pictures of students making the tiles from raw clay, performing their story in front of the whole school and many parents, and of myself, art teacher, Athena Negros, and Enrichment specialist, Jill Browne, and Kate Culligan installing the tiles on the wall of the school.