Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Artist in Residence at Sonoita Elementary School

On April 20, I started my artist in residence at Sonoita Elementary School in Elgin, AZ. This small town is approximately, 30 miles from Tombstone and is surrounded by ranches, vineyards, and wineries. As you can tell from Elgin's welcoming sign showing girls stomping grapes, its wine business is flourishing.

I am teaching grades 2 - 5. I spent one hour each day for two weeks with each class. Each grade used a variety of resource materials to create historical, fabric wall hangings about Ranching Through the Ages. Approximate time frames for each of the major ranching periods in the history of Arizona were assigned to different grades:

  • Grade 2: Current (1975 - 2009)
  • Grade 3: 1901 - 1974
  • Grade 4: 1857 - 1900
  • Grade 5: 1691 - 1821

Before I began teaching, I spent many hours preparing. This included buying supplies, cutting 30 yards of fabric and over 5 yards of 90" wide batting. Early one morning (around 3:00 AM) about three weeks ago, an idea came to me to mount the children's compositions (12" X 18") on jean material. I asked the school and friends here in Green Valley to collect old jeans. Consequently, I have also be spending time cutting them into long strips that will be sewn together.

During the first week we concentrated on drawing our compositions and making pattern pieces for fabric appliqués. At the beginning of the second week, students painted their background fabric and fabric for their appliqués. Then fusible webbing was used to appliqué their pieces to their background fabric. Of course, adults did all of the ironing. Below are two drawings created by a second and a third grader, respectively.

We decided that the second grade would make a whole scene designed by them. Students were divided into groups to design the sun, the clouds and birds, mountains, animals, jeeps (ranch equipment), etc. After two students put a river into their designs, we added a river that flowed from one end of the scene to the other. The horse see in the above drawing was one of the animals appliquéd. I helped them with their patterns and then they cut out all the pieces except the mountain, hills, and river. When we ironed all their appliquéd pieces to the backgrounds, even their teacher was blown away. The twenty 12" x 18" wall pieces were pinned to a sheet to view the semi-finished project. Be sure to click on the photo to see a bigger image of the project.

Last Thursday, the school had an art night to display the art work the students have done over the year. I have included some photos of the Ranching Through the Ages wall hangings created by grades 3 -5 below. Over the summer, I will finish cutting the jeans apart and mounting all the pieces on them. Several staff and parents have volunteered to help with the sewing.

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Fifth Grade

I had a wonderful two weeks at the school. The students were enthusiastic and did some incredible work. I also learned a great deal from them; some of which will help me be more prolific with my work. I feel blessed to been able to participate in such a rewarding experience. The staff at the school was very helpful. And I cannot sing enough praises for the four teachers (Mr. Smith, Mrs. Coleman, Mrs. Vanden Berge, and Mrs. Cartter) I worked with.


Susie Monday said...

These are so cool. I am glad this idea worked well, you did wonderful design work with the kids.

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

So nice to see you sharing your talents with the students.
Also happy to catch up to you to see where you are now.

Edith said...

hey - good job, momma! really proud of you!

TALL GIRL said...

Very cool, Susan. I love the group design work.