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Bolton artists bring the outdoors in

Students of all ages work with an artist-in-residence


by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jake Tawa's third-grade class made salmon to decorate the water catcher outside the school library.The outdoors has come inside at Bolton Primary School, thanks to student artists working under the guidance of artist-in-residence Kaaren Pixton.

Colorful leaves made of Tyvek, which is a durable plastic fabric, provide a shade canopy in the library, while ceramic frogs and insects cavort at the base of the wooden tree in the school’s library. Just outside the library’s doors, ceramic salmon circle the base of a water catcher in the courtyard.

“The PTA is very supportive of artist-in-residence,” said Bolton Principal Holly Omlin-Ruback. “Every year, we have an artist working with some kids. Sometimes it’s by grade level.” Occasionally, the whole school works on a joint project.

“This year we had one project to beautify our school. I think it’s a neat community experience,” Omlin-Ruback said. Bolton’s staff is involved too. They plan to make Tyvek butterflies that will hang from the library ceiling.

The project started at ground level, with students in kindergarten through first grade creating ceramic frogs and insects for the base of the library’s tree.

“We were making bugs and flowers so we can show it’s a real tree,” said kindergartner Jake Larson. He said that whenever he comes to the library, he enjoys finding and visiting the insect he made.

Second-grader Rylie Welsh painted a frog, using an artistic process that she made to sound simple.

“You start with a tiny oval of clay,” she said. “Then you put cuts on the bottom and top and make legs. Then you carve a head into it and that’s basically a frog.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jake Larson's kindergarten class made some of the bugs and flowers that adorn the base of the tree.

Up above the tree’s base, fourth- and fifth-graders added leaves to the tree’s bare branches. Fifth-grader Kaleah Helmke said that she enjoyed working with “a real artist” to craft the leaves.

“I will really miss Bolton,” Kaleah said, adding that she was pleased to know that “there’s a part of me at this school when I leave.”

The third-graders’ artwork tied into their grade-level study of salmon. They created ceramic fish and tiles, which were affixed to an outdoor water catcher.

Some students used colors not normally found on the fish, said third-grader Jake Tawa, while others drew on their salmon studies to create realistic fish.

“I think they look pretty alike,” Jake said approvingly.

Next year’s third-graders can expect to be inspired by the fish, he said, predicting that future students would say, “Wow, these are pretty cool. I wish we got to do these this year.”

“They’ll go in smiling, with better attitudes,” Jake predicted.

Pixton, the artist and art educator, was smiling, too, as she spoke of her experience working with Bolton students.

“I have to say that it’s really fun for me,” she said. “It’s exhilarating to be part of this creative process. I so much enjoy the kids’ ideas, what they have to say, what they think, what they create. It feels like a celebration to watch all this happen.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Kaleah Helmke stands near the Tyvek leaves that her fifth-grade class created.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Second-graders like Rylie Welsh made ceramic frogs and insects for the base of the tree.



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