Student projects shine light on art

February 5, 2009

By Jeff Richards

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For perhaps the first time in their young lives, the fifth-graders of Newcastle Elementary School became artists, and on Jan. 8 they put their work on display in the school’s commons for classmates and parents.

Their work was part of a schoolwide fifth-grade project, which entailed picking an artist, and then making a poster detailing the artist’s career. Finally, they had to create their own reproduction of one of the artist’s works.

Tyler Haselman (right) stands by his Picasso project. Classmate Tom Faulkner recreated ‘The Mona Lisa.’ Contributed

Tyler Haselman (right) stands by his Picasso project. Classmate Tom Faulkner recreated ‘The Mona Lisa.’ Contributed

Some kept it local while others chose to study some of the most famous artists. Tom Faulkner, 10, chose Leonardo da Vinci for his project.

“I wanted to learn more about him than the others because he lived so long ago, and I wondered what life was like for painters back then,” he said.

This was the second year Newcastle had the fair. The idea came from fifth-grade teacher Deanna Buder, who oversaw a similar program for five years at Sunny Hills Elementary School.

“It gives them an in-depth knowledge on a particular artist,” she said. “They can pick artists who inspire them and grab them.”

For his reproduction, Faulkner chose “The Mona Lisa,” first tracing and then going by eye to copy the famous painting. He used colored pencils but said he found the colors difficult to reproduce due to the lack of brightness in them.

“I liked his shading and texture, but I didn’t like how he uses so many dull colors,” Faulkner said. “It took a long time to do, but it was really rewarding in the end.”

Sam Harrington, 10, chose to go the route of using actual paint for his reproduction of “The Cat in the Hat.” Using spray paint, he spent four hours capturing the image of Theodore S. Geisel’s/Dr. Seuss’ exuberant black-and-white cat with a splattering of green paint as the background. 

Harrington said he received a lot of positive feedback at the fair from parents and classmates, who told him it looked just like the real thing.

“I thought it would be fun to do something everyone would know,” he said.

Still, Harrington said people had all sorts of questions about the author of children’s books, including his inspirations and work habits, all of which Harrington could answer.

One of the few 3-D sculptures at the art fair, which included work by 74 students, came from 10-year-old Jack Ryan. He chose local glass blower Dale Chihuly, whose hand-blown glass flowers he’d seen hanging from the ceiling in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

While he didn’t actually create a glass sculpture, Ryan used the craft product Shrinky Dinks, which he baked, shaped and then colored. The result was a vase of flowers that had the appearance of glass.

The other grades got involved as well. Students from other classes went to the fair and were tasked with interviewing one of the fifth-grade presenters, asking them questions about their project.

The fair itself was a five- to six-week culmination of work for the students and a rewarding experience, Buder said.

“The kids love it,” she said.

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