SchoolArts Magazine

October 2017

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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H ow do you make your ele- mentary artwork part of a c ommunity? By designing an elementary art project that transforms personal art into a sculptural installation. Work - ing collaboratively, our Advanced A rt students at Travis Elementary in Mineral Wells, Texas, created a herd of horse sculptures grazing on the front campus of our school. We invited fifteen talented sixth- grade students on a yearlong journey with us to create a public art instal- lation based on the sculptures of D eborah Butterfield, an American artist famous for her horse sculptures made first from branches and limbs, then disassembled, cast in bronze, and welded into their final forms. Museum Experiences We spent time one August morning in the atrium of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, planning the project with the museum educators. The museum staff enthusiastically supported our project and tailored a specific tour for our stu - dents using paintings and sculptures b y Remington, Russell, and other art- ists who depicted horses in their work. On an October field trip, museum educators used this unique tour to engage our students in discussions on how the horses in these pieces showed movement, emotions, and purpose. On the same trip, we viewed a Butterfield sculpture, Hina, that was two blocks down the street on the west lawn of the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth. Our students got up close to touch and study the structure of the sculptureā€”a great experience for any young artist! Starting with Maquettes Our group first created small maquettes to learn the process of working with the tools and materials, which included 17-gauge wire, pliers, wire cutters, handsaws, and pruning shears. Tree branches were obtained at no cost from the local brush col - lection center. We selected appropri- ate branches and transported them Horse Skipper Bennett and Debra Strandberg by trailer to a staging area outside the studio, a portable building made available by our administration. Making the Herd When the maquettes were complete, the final step was to sculpt our herd of horses. This would be a long pro- cess, taking months to complete. We e xplained to students that we did not want stiff-legged sawhorses; the big- gest challenge was making the leap f rom 2D thinking to a final 3D form that displayed the expressive lines and motion of a horse. We showed our group videos of Butterfield at work, making those tough artistic choices and working with her team. It was hard work. A quote from Chuck Close Success and failure punctuated each of our fort -minute sessions, and we celebrated each time a horse stood on its own. SENSE E L E M E N T A R Y 48 OCTOBER 2017 SchoolArts

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