SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2010

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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Page 40 of 63

Sarah DeWitt Brooks E arly this year our PTA president asked me if I was willing to lead our fifth-grade students in the creation of a sculpture garden. Our school is undergoing a long-awaited renovation and an abundance of modular classrooms has left us with less than appealing school grounds. I immediately saw this as an opportunity to bring our school community together with a positive art-making experience during this potentially stressful time. I had recently read about the Wish Tree Project proposed by Craig Roland on Art Education 2.0 (, and thought that an interactive sculpture would be the perfect start to getting our students and staff involved in the collaborative creative process. the Imagine Peace tower The concept of a wish tree is simple: plant a tree; provide tags and pencils for writing wishes; and encourage everyone to write their wishes and tie them onto the tree. Yoko Ono encourages participants to send wishes to the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland where they are collected, enclosed in capsules, and buried on the Isle of Videy surrounding the tower. The Imagine Peace Tower is a memorial to John Lennon consisting of a tower of light surrounded by a wall engraved with the words "Imagine Peace" in twenty-four different languages. Since Ono first started the Wish Tree project, more than 700,000 wishes have been collected and included in the Imagine Peace Tower. play stand beside the tree, along with a box of tags and pencils for writing wishes. I also gave every teacher in the school a supply of wish tags and a description of the project in order to encourage students and staff members to create wishes outside of the artroom. By the end of the first week, our tree was covered with wishes. The project continues to grow because students are excited to know that their wish will be included in a global art project. an Interactive experience During art class, students viewed images of Ono's Wish Trees and the Imagine Peace Tower. We are lucky enough to live within a subway ride of one of Yoko Ono's Wish Trees at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and I encouraged students to take their Power of Collaboration families to see the official Wish Tree The most moving part of this experiplanted by Ono. We discussed the ence was the speed and readiness with interactive quality of the artwork and which our school community jumped students were amazed at the number into action The project developed a of wishes from sense of pride participants all and leadership Participation in this project over the world in my fifth-grade opened up communication that have already between students of all ages students and I been collected. had a never-endand encouraged a continuing ing supply of studiscussion of the powerful Planting dent volunteers the seed ready to help dispossibilities of art. tribute wish tags Students were and care for the wish tree. The project thrilled to participate in such a large was simple enough for all grade levels art project. We started by planting to participate, and classroom teachour tree in a large pot. We positioned ers were eager to take students to add it near the school entrance where it wishes to the tree. would be easily accessible to all stuParticipation in this project opened dents, parents, and staff. I posted Yoko up communication between students Ono's Wish Tree instructions on a disof all ages and encouraged a continuing discussion of the power of art. Our wish tree stands at the entrance of our school, welcoming all students and visitors to participate in our community. Most importantly, the project brought our school together during a time of stress, grounding us with a sense of togetherness and hope. Sarah DeWitt Brooks is an art teacher at Oakton Elementary School, Oakton, Virginia. NatioNal StaNdard Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning. Web liNkS 35

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