SCULPTURE IN THE SCHOOLS
Pupils create a work of mythical proportions
The sculptures will be placed in the atrium
of the new SMARTS Center and in front of Liberty’s middle
school building. By Laurie M. Fisher, Vindicator correspondent
Multiple renderings of mythic creatures
are scattered across a drawing table in the sculpture studio
at Youngstown State University. In some drawings, eyes and
horns bulge from one side of a skull while a beak forms the
shape of a smile on the opposite facade. Ceramic models sport
appendages that include paws, wings, claws and a mermaid tale.
The artistic studies are the first works
of a collaborative effort that includes art pupils and teachers
from W. S.Guy Middle School in Liberty and Hayes Middle School
in Youngstown. The pupils are working with California ceramic
sculptor Trisha Kyner and figurative metal sculptor David
Friedheim, who traveled to Youngstown to create two whimsical
sculptures for public display.
The project is coordinated by SMARTS, a
literacy arts program that is a partnership between YSU College
of Fine and Performing Arts, the Beeghly College of Education,
the Yongstown City School District and area arts organizations.
The Educational Sculpture Project is the first partnership
between SMARTS and a Trumbull County school.
Display: The 8-by-8 ceramic and cement creature
will find a home among the trees in front of W. S.Guy Middle
School in Liberty at the end of next week.
A two-headed flying papier-mache and wire
sculpture created by Hayes students will reside in the atrium
of the new SMARTS Center, in the Youngstown Symphony Center’s
Alder Art Academy. The more than yearlong collaboration is
a multilevel arts and literacy learning process for pupils,
teachers and professional artists.
In addition to following the project from
drawings to assembly to installation, pupils write their won
mythology to give the creatures a history. This week Guy pupils
will vote on a name and story that will explain the creature’s
origins and physical features.
Working together: The professional artists
and pupils found that collaborative efforts produce
admirable results they couldn’t accomplish separately.
In January, pupils were asked to use words to describe their
creation. Carol Gallo’s seventh-graders at W.S.Guy agreed
on “strong, intelligent and welcoming.”
The next step was for pupils to draw body
parts and mold clay sculptures to reflect their ideas. They
took digital photos and then transmitted the images to California
artists Kyner and Friedheim.
In their Oakland studio, the artists synthesized
the work and relayed their ideas back to the Youngstown classrooms.
When they came to Youngstown on March 1 to begin the three-week
artist in residency program, Kyner and Friedheim presented
ideas to each of the art classes involved.
During a class field trip to the YSU studio
last week, four W. S.Guy pupils examined the chicken wire
and metal rod armature they recognized as part of their fish
Kayla Ingram explained that they came up
with the whale tale shape because they needed something to
balance the legs and paws on the opposite side of the creature.
Ashley Lopez noted that the group experimented with many versions
until they discovered a shape and size that worked.
“It’s harder than it looks”
to create a sculpture, added Michael Damioli.
Pupils gained appreciation of the structure
as well as artistic qualities necessary to create work.
“Artists work harder than you
may think”, said Mychal Doblanski.
Besides the armature, or structure, pupils
learned ceramic techniques to form the colorful shapes that
will adorn the creature’s charcoal-colored cement skin.
Because of the size and weight of the sculpture, the body
was designed to be assembled in three pieces.
The Hayes creation is a two-headed flying
dragon-like creature made of papier-mache. One head is a Cyclops
with a long wavy tongue. After pupils observed the lighter
weight armature in the YSU sculpture studio, they worked with
Hayes teacher Steve Beck in their art class to create pointed
scales for the sculpture’s underbelly.
A first: This is the first project where
the artists have worked specifically with school children.
Friedheim said he enjoys the pupil’s openness and spontaneity.
“The children are interested in expression
and activity. They learn that sculpture is different than
drawing. Sculpture happens in real space. If it is not balanced,
it falls. If it is weak, it breaks”, he said.
“The project is a true artistic collaboration.
This is difficult in any project, especially one that involves
two sculptures, 100 middle school students and a 2,500-mile
distance between the collabor- ators”, said Kelly Bancroft,
Pupils participate in the educational process
on many levels, said Gallo, who explained her motivation for
getting involved in such a large project.
“I wanted to show students what it
was like to do a collaborative. As a partnership they can
do more together. We can make things we couldn’t have
done independently”, she said.
Financial supporters include SMARTS, the
Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way, the Youngstown Rotary,
John Lightfoot, Cedar Steel, Giant Eagle, Hearn Paper and
the YSU Art Department.