Posted by: Nick Voss | October 28, 2013

A Glimpse of Art at Conserve School

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ART DEPARTMENT—Four days a week, the East wing of the Lowenstine Academic Building buzzes with creativity. While the science, math, history, English and Spanish courses are taught in creative ways, the Ceramics, Drawn to Nature, and Earth Art courses are specifically designed to nourish student creativity.  Provided with the time and space to feel open to their creative intuition, art students at Conserve learn about influential artists, fundamental techniques, and ways to creatively express themselves. By this point in the semester, students have become quite comfortable with the techniques under the guidance of Instructors Robert Eady and Nancy Schwartz. So then, let’s take a glimpse at what the art classes are up to!

In Ceramics, each student is creating two place settings, with a unified theme. One of these two settings has to use a nature-inspired theme. Each place setting includes a bowl, plate, centerpiece, and a mug. Students may utilize coiling, pinching, slab, or throwing on the wheel, and may choose a porcelain (smooth) or stoneware (course) clay medium. In a statement of inspiration, Dane explains that “Ceramics molds me as I mold my clay”. Sophia explains that “There’s much stress relief that comes from pounding organic material into a table (in prepping the clay), and there’s so much value to creating a piece that is specifically unique to your hands.”

In Drawn to Nature, students are painting in the spirit of Sara Meunder, a local modified contour artist working in Boulder Junction. Her style includes framing objects and animals, yet painting them unconfined by the frame. Instructor Nancy Swartz set up a still life in the center of the room of objects for students to sketch from. After sketching, students completed the project with water color, using watercolor methods such as complementary colors, and experimenting with wet and dry blending. Woogie explains  that “Drawn to nature really helps to merge the artistic side of me and my love of nature”.

In Earth Art, students are making life-size representations of environmental leaders. These leaders include authors, activists, researchers, and all sorts of influential people from various points of history. The project entails the life-size representation, as well as conducting research for a presentation on their life. The making of their character has a few steps. First, students make a skeleton out of sticks, then create joints from stocks stuffed with rags. The students then cover the skeleton in long underwear and stuff it with leaves for the skin and muscle. Once it’s stuffed, the figure is clothed and given a head and face. Lastly, shoes are fastened and hands are made with stuffed gloves. Hair and facial hair is created provided with sedges, grasses, pine cones, leaves, or cloth. Conner and Sophia worked on John Muir. Through their project they learned how he lived a very sheltered life until his college years. After being lucky to recover from an injury, he made a promise to god that if he got his life back, he’d live as close to nature as he could. Since he lived, he then proceeded to have adventures such as starting and riding an avalanche, and climbing trees during wind storms. Olivia and Sarah did their project on Wangari Matthai. They learned how she started the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, reforesting much of Eastern Africa while simultaneously providing for women’s empowerment and support for youth. She won a Nobel Peace prize for her efforts, and has many nature preserves named after her.

If you were to spend an entire morning visiting these three art classes, one thing in particular would stand out amidst the dozens of projects and creativity-inducing music playlists: talent. Whether that talent is newly discovered, or is building off of past experience, CS7 students are really taking their work seriously, and it shows. The artists are even displaying their work for the community in the balcony hallway of the Lowenstine Academic Building, for all to enjoy!

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