Today started off foggy, but soon warmed up into a lovely spring day.  We were able to take all of the classes outside for activities.

The Art 2 and Art 3 classes finalized their basic sculpture plan and then we went outside to see how it might actually look in the front lawn.  The old tree stumps were not quite where everyone had remembered them, so the design had to be slightly altered to fit better in the space.  The students are still planning a series of spirals – but now they go around the old stumps with one making an infinity-like design around a new tree and a current one on the lawn.  They are wanting to relate a cycle of death and life together.  It’s hard to describe all of their ideas – so here is a picture (not to scale) of the re-worked design after it was drawn on the board.

Students discussing their sketch with Melanie on the front lawn.

Final (tentative) Sketch

The students also took some time to measure the perimeter of the front lawn as well as the permanent fixtures (trees, stumps, and the bench) so that we can begin making scaled drawings tomorrow.  The drawings will inform us about how much wood needs to be brought to the school during spring break, as well as what other materials we may need for anchors and support – such as concrete and gravel.  Tomorrow we should have fairly concrete plans for the entire sculpture – which is quite surprising considering there has been two separate classes collaborating over a 3-day period.

Students measuring the lawn.

Writing down all of the measurements.

The middle school and art 1 classes continued their discussion about folk art today and related it to the family interview they were asked to complete before the residency.  They began to brainstorm different things they could bring in to complete “their story” inside a shoe box – a project that they will complete after spring break.  After a discussion and asking some questions about their upcoming project, the students went outside to complete texture rubbings of the school grounds and the trees.  They will have the option of including these rubbings as a part of their box sculpture as a way to place themselves at the school the year the oak trees were cut down and to remind them of the Panther family to which they belong.

Students making texture rubbings from the stump.


Art 2 class sketch.

The first period Art 1 class completed the same lesson as the classes yesterday.  The students enjoyed discussing their ideas and perceptions about folk art with Melanie.

The Art 2 and Art 3 classes discussed their ideas for the sculpture for the front lawn.  At first they talked about the ideas they wanted to convey with their sculpture.  They mentioned a memorial, physically inviting, relating the sculpture to the growth of the trees, allowing the community to interact and creating a connection with the old and new trees.  The students desire to remember the old trees while also pressing forward to the future.  Then they divided into groups and shared their personal sketches with one another.  They picked the strongest ideas and combined them into a tentative idea.  The most amazing thing was that between the two classes – they came up with VERY similar ideas.  The students have considered building up, digging down and including native plants as a part of their creation.

We are all excited to get out on the front lawn tomorrow with the sketches to see how it may look out on the lawn.  Thank goodness it stopped raining and the temperature is going up!

Students discussing their consolidated idea with Melanie.

Art 2/Art 3 final sketch

We got off to a great start – it’s a good thing Melanie arrived early.  I’m pretty sure everything that could go wrong did – including baffling technology issues.  However, we did not let that damper our spirits as we prepared to work with the students to start their artwork.

Today was mostly informational.  The students got to meet Melanie and hear some great information.  The Art 2 and Art 3 classes discussed different kinds of sculpture – public sculpture, memorial sculpture, minimalist sculpture… the list goes on for a while.  Then Melanie had prepared a power point that highlights wood sculpture (since that is the medium we have to work with) as well as different ways the wood could be treated, stacked, piled and so much more. She ended with a look at traditional and then nontraditional memorial sculptures.  We ended those classes thinking about what the students want to say with their sculpture and which elements of art/principles of design they wanted to focus on.  Tomorrow they will share their sketches with one another and begin collaborating.

Melanie discussing folk art with some middle school students.

The middle school and Art 1 classes focused on folk art (side note: one group will do this lesson tomorrow).  They discussed the terms by themselves (art and folk) and then tied them together.  They watched a short video clip of different people defining/describing folk art.  Then they looked at examples of sculptures by Joseph Cornell – an artist who often used small objects in boxes to tell stories.  Google his artwork – it’s interesting.  The students will be creating their own memory box that tells their story.  They have already completed a family history interview of at least one relative and brought in shoe boxes – it should be great to watch them begin to create stories of their lives this week and then finish them up the week after spring break.

We were able to arrange a field trip across town to the Josephine Sculpture Park.  While there, the Art 2 and Art 3 students were able to meet Melanie, tour some of the sculptures in the park as well as see the wood available for them to work with.  This was the first time the students met the artist – and she gave them sketching homework!

Students following Melanie up the driveway.

Melanie explaining a sculpture in the park.

Melanie talking about the Elements and Principles seen in "The Crucible."

Students enjoying the "rocking chair."

Melanie explaining different techniques they could use to work with the wood.

The students look on as Melanie explains some options.

Melanie showing the students how simple they can make their sketches.

TIP stands for “Teacher Initiated Program.”  It is a matching grant through the Kentucky Arts Council that provides funds for professional artists to work with teachers and students in all of the art forms.  The artist and teacher work together to create a unit that is specific to the school’s needs.  Then, a panel scores the grants and those that are considered proficient are funded.

Here at FMHS, we are proud to announce that we received a grant for local artist, Melanie VanHouten, to come work with all of the current art students at the school.  Specifically, we are going to be working with the trees that were cut down in October.  We were able to save many of the pieces of wood (currently housed at Josephine Sculpture Park of which VanHouten is the owner/operator) – which the students will be using to create sculpture(s) related to the trees and their memory.

In case you missed some of the initial discussion concerning the trees – click here , here, or here to review State-Journal articles.

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The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supports this artist residency with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.