Friday, August 22, 2014

Wellsville, Hutchinson students craft colorful, collaborative art

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 5/12/2014

WELLSVILLE ­— Eighth-graders at Wellsville Middle School crafted their own take on collaboration.

Art students at the school, 602 Walnut St., Wellsville, teamed up with fellow eighth-graders at Hutchinson Middle School during the past three weeks to sculpt an art piece that now stands halfway between the two Kansas cities — in Elmdale, along U.S. 50, west of Emporia.

WELLSVILLE ­— Eighth-graders at Wellsville Middle School crafted their own take on collaboration.

Art students at the school, 602 Walnut St., Wellsville, teamed up with fellow eighth-graders at Hutchinson Middle School during the past three weeks to sculpt an art piece that now stands halfway between the two Kansas cities — in Elmdale, along U.S. 50, west of Emporia.

DeAnna Morgan, Wellsville art teacher, and her college schoolmate from Pittsburg State University, Kylee Baldetti, Hutchinson Middle School art teacher, came up with the idea for the collaborative effort.

“We were talking about how we don’t ever collaborate with each other and we don’t ever see each other or see other art teachers across the state of Kansas,” Morgan said. “We kind of brainstormed a little bit and emailed back and forth and here it is.”

The duo wanted their students to think a bit further than the city limits of their town, Morgan said in an article she wrote about the project.

“We get so caught up in our local surroundings that we forget that there is more out there,” she said. “That is the great thing about art — it’s global and everyone can access it.”

More than 120 eighth graders, including 22 of Morgan’s students and about 100 of Baldetti’s, contributed to the sculpture, which was crafted from lumber donated by Home Depot of Olathe and Hutchinson. The students from both schools kept in touch through the weeks working on the sculpture using the video chat program, Skype.

“It was a unique opportunity for our students to communicate with another school in Kansas,” Baldetti said in the article. “Skype provided us with the resources to help make this project happen. Each class had a representative to help lead discussion and generate ideas that were then shared with the other school. Students ‘met’ at least twice a week to check up on each other’s progress.

“Each student received one piece of lumber to work with. Each school had their choice of a base color for their stick; Wellsville had the primary colors (red, blue and yellow) and Hutchinson had the secondary colors (green, violet and orange). Following the base color, students painted line-work on their sticks that best expressed themselves. This project is a great way to collaborate because each student has their own individual part to express themselves, but still come together to make it one sculpture in the end.”

The sculpture includes all of the sticks of lumber that were colorfully painted by the students from both schools, and was formed in an almost teepee-like shape for people to walk through. The work was based on a sculpture at Wayne State College in Wayne, Neb., Baldetti said.

“We took our spin on it from the artist, Pearl, and titled our students’ work ‘Pearl’s Piece Arch’ to give her the credit,” Baldetti said. “The Wayne State College installation drew many students and visitors to interact with it. When Mrs. Morgan and I were deciding on a sculpture for our project we wanted something that would make an impact from a distance.”

Distance played a big role in deciding the sculpture’s final destination. After several phone calls, Baldetti found Camp Wood YMCA in Elmdale, almost exactly between Wellsville and Hutchinson, Morgan’s article said. When Morgan and Baldetti suggested the idea to officials at Camp Wood, they got a positive reaction from Ken Wold, Camp Wood executive director, and Cheri Shaver, senior program director.

“When I first saw the picture I started thinking about where it could be placed at camp,” Shaver said. “I then was chatting with Ken about how we could build onto it at camp and about how it could build into community. When the tall grasses grow, the colors on the sculpture will really stand out at different times of the day.”

The sculpture was constructed May 3 on a trail at Camp Wood. The project began at about 9 a.m. and was completed by 11:30 a.m., Morgan said. Both Morgan and Baldetti were on hand to help build the sculpture from their students’ painted lumber. While they did not require their students to be there, Morgan said several youths turned in permission slips to go, but ultimately had conflicting activities.

The sculpture will remain at Camp Wood, Shaver said. Middle school-aged children at camp this summer for the community-based leadership camp, “community ambassadors,” likely will add to the sculpture.

“It will be staying at YMCA Camp Wood for the duration of the summer,” Morgan said. “Each of those kids that come this summer will be able to put in their sticks and add on to it. We are going to send her our lesson plans and it will be expanded on one of the walking trails on the camp. The kids can walk up on the trail and through the sculpture and touch it and things like that. It is built specifically for that place.”

Both Morgan and Baldetti have submitted a proposal for their students’ work to be present at the National Art Education Association’s 2015 national convention in New Orleans, Morgan said. More than 2,000 proposals thus far have been submitted for the convention, but Morgan hopes the collaborative piece can get in.

Both teachers now are coming up with ideas for next year’s collaborative project. They plan to do something different and include more schools next year, Morgan said.

“We don’t think we will do the same kind of sculpture that we did this year, be we are looking to bring in more schools around the area,” she said.

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