SchoolArts Magazine

APR 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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AdvocAcy The Nest Amy Birkan W hen I first saw a picture of artist Jennifer McCarthy's nest, I envisioned it in our school's newly built concrete courtyard. It's not every day that you see an art installation at school. With a photo in hand, I proposed the idea to our principal. He agreed, and the project proceeded from there. I thought about how to involve my middle-school students in this project. I wasn't sure if the artist would mind students stepping on the nest and possibly altering its original design. I discovered, on the contrary, that she loved the idea of working collaboratively. In fact, it was her idea to have students weave fabric into the nest. Building the Nest Two classes of sixth, seven, and eighth graders worked for four days. They carried sticks, painted and wrapped with recycled fabric, and wove them into the nest. Some students preferred to clean the site, some preferred to wrap sticks, and some took digital photos, but everyone participated. 12 April 2013 SchoolArts The nest took shape, began to take the neighborhood preschool contacted on a life of its own, and grew in unpre- me to schedule a field trip for their dictable ways. My fellow art teacher students to see the nest. Other Santa and I brainstormed different ways we Fe art teachers have told me that they could use the nest in the curriculum. now want a nest at their school. I am Kindergartners and excited to see where first graders had it goes next and What began as a bit their art classes in of a mystery became a how it continues to the nest. They drew school-wide expedition develop and inspire the nest and added people at each new and broadened students' site. imaginative eleand parents' ideas ments such as birds, What began as monsters, eggs, and a bit of a mystery about what art is. zombies. became a schoolwide expedition and broadened stuThe whole school learned about dents' and parents' ideas about what naturalist artists, nontraditional art, art is. scale, and proportion. Art classes I would like to thank Jennifer watched Andy Goldsworthy's Rivers McCarthy for her inspirational work, and Tides. Journalism students wrote the staff at Gonzales Community an article for the school paper. Even School for embracing the nest, and the school nurse stopped me in the Principal Lee for saying "yes." hall to say she had a great idea: What if the middle schoolers graduated in Amy Birkan is an art teacher at Gonzathe nest? Building Inspiration The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote an article about the art installation at our school. After reading the article, les Community School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. abirkan@sfps.info Web Link www.newoutsiderart.com/largemulti-view/Sculpture/65033-1-4660/ Sculpture.html

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