SchoolArts Magazine

May 2016

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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T he monarch butterfly—that orange and black late summer guest—has been in decline. The reduction of the milkweed plant on which they are dependent is a possible cause. Beyond their beauty and being the butterfly all children can identify, monarchs are pollina- tors. Pollinators, which include bees and bats, are important for many plants to produce fruits and seeds. Monarchs in Peril Monarchs in Peril was a funded proj- ect I worked on with children at the Haskell Center in Flint, Michigan last summer, in which I taught a variety of art projects based on the butterfly. Projects included creating an outside ceramic tile mural, keeping nature journals, and making fused-glass sun catchers. The Haskell Center is located in a part of Michigan that housed workers for the once-thriving auto industry. Today, the area is marked by boarded- up houses waiting for demolition, a shuttered elementary school with weeds growing in the playground, and unplowed, unmaintained city streets. Even the Haskell Center is a shell of its former glory. The swimming pool in the basement, once filled with laughing children, now sits empty except for the equipment stored there. The long sidewalk leading to the center is mostly hidden beneath the grass and weeds growing through the cracks in the broken concrete. Despite this, there are flickers of hope and revival due to the dedicated staff, and during the summer, I hoped children's art could play a contributing role. Painting Butterflies Children on the grassy lawn of the Haskell Center painted white outlines of monarchs "flying" from north to south. In the coming weeks, as the grass grew and was mowed, the painted outlines gradually disappeared. The conceptual artwork was created with the intent to spread awareness and address the monarch's decline. I began by teaching students how to read a compass so they could align the painting of the monarchs in a north- to-south direction. Teams of three to four students each used white latex house paint to paint around Masonite templates, which I had previously cut out with a jigsaw. We painted the monarchs near the sidewalk, where they would receive the most visibility. The Art of Ideas I told students that this is a differ- ent type of art—it is conceptual art, the art of ideas. It's not traditional art that they can take home, that their mother or father can post on the refrigerator. We preserved the art with a camera. The diminishing of the monarchs was not the only reason I wanted to work at the Haskell Center. In fact, it was not the primary reason. Whole urban communities, like Civic Park, are also diminishing. Solutions are complex but working with children in art allowed me to add my voice as a contribution. Craig Hinshaw is an art educator, artist, and the author of Clay Connections; Ani- mals, Houses, and People; and The Nature of Art. W E B L I N K Craig Hinshaw Children on the grass awn painted white outlines of monarchs "fl ing" from north to south. M U S E U M M U S I N G S A Disappearing Act 12 MAY 2016 SchoolArts

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