SMART ART: Banks students bridge class and workshop

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What might have appeared to be orderly chaos was actually just that.

And, it’s always that way when middle school students are building bridges and engineering paper.

On Tuesday, the students in Phyllis Jackson’s sixth-grade class at Banks Middle School participated in the 2017 ArtBridges In-School program facilitated by Tara Satrorius and Hope Brannon and sponsored by the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy.

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Jackson attended the ArtBridges Summer Workshop at the Johnson Center in July and, as a result, her class was one of several classes selected as “bridges” between the workshop and the classroom.

In the summer workshop, the teachers created cardboard-engineered puppet theaters using a variety of media and techniques.

Sartorius said the Art Bridges workshop is designed to teach art techniques that can be used as bridges to other disciplines, including language arts, history, social studies, math and science.

“That’s exactly what today’s activity did,” Jackson said. “We have been studying the universe and about the Civil War and the artwork of several of the students was related to what we have been studying. That warmed my heart to know they had been listening and are interested.”

Jackson was encouraged by the interest and efforts that her students displayed as they dived headlong into a new and exciting art activity – paper engineering.

Sartorius explained that pop-up books are products of paper engineering and a lot of imagination.

First the students had a happy time preparing the backgrounds for their pop-ups. Their studio was the great outdoors and a table top on which to mix and blend colors, “like tie-dyed,” they exclaimed.

What could have been a sloppy mess was not. The sixth-graders realized that when colors run into each other they become gray and muddy and would not make interesting backdrops for their pop-ups.

“Lay it flat,” “Don’t let it drip!” “Oh, don’t step on it!” were words of caution and alarm as the students moved their background designs from the table canvas onto the walkway to dry.

Back in the classroom, Sartorius and Brannon took the students through the steps of paper engineering, from how to cut and fold the paper to how much or how little glue to use on their pop-ups. And, as is with any book, there has to be a story. Then, they let the students’ imaginations take over.

As their creative juices began to flow, the sixth-graders being to think outside the box, Jackson said.

“This is a great opportunity for the students to use their imaginations and be creative with their artwork and their stories,” Jackson said.

Each pop-up had a story. Some of the students were eager to tell their stories. Alyssa Hirsche’s story had a science fiction script with a softball game being played in outer space. Jaydon’s Journey took deer-hunting Davis bumping down the dirt road in a pickup truck, while MJ Shehane’s pop-up was a scene from the American Revolution.

There were pop-ups about volcanoes, galaxy warfare and exploration. There were stories about walks in the woods and shopping trips for shoes and such.

“This art activity was a lot fun and the students learned a lot about pop-ups and how they are designed and made,” Jackson said. “Most of all, it was an opportunity to be creative, to use their imaginations and to think outside the box.”

Jackson and her students thanked Sartorius and Brannon for a wonderful learning experience and the Johnson Center for the Arts for making it possible.”