Hi, my name is Rebecca Oravec and I teach middle school art at Wrightson Ridge K-8 School in Sahuarita Unified School District! The 2019-2020 school year was the opening year for Wrightson’s Middle School campus, and MY first year teaching middle school art as well! Starting a program from scratch is an amazing opportunity, but it also means making the most from a small amount of funds and supplies. I was extremely grateful to be awarded a SEEF mini grant!
My project was to provide students with clay to create symbolic 3D artworks! My third quarter students were able to break into the new boxes of supplies and help cut up the first 25lb. box of clay. The rest of the clay is waiting patiently to be used in the 20-21 school year!
Why did you choose to start this project with your students?
One of my goals in teaching middle school art is giving students the opportunity to ‘dip their toes’ in as many art-making experiences as possible so they can choose high school art classes, find lifelong hobbies, or just enjoy expressing themselves in a variety of ways right now. Clay is one of the most engaging art materials for students! No matter the age of the student – kindergarten to eighth grade – their faces light up when clay is involved. Since we do not have a kiln at WRS, I opted for air-dry clay and students painted with acrylics when their project had hardened.
How did this project enrich or impact the student learning experience?
Since my students come to me with a diverse background in art making, so I try to provide several scaffolded options for each project. Some students learned how to make a basic pinch pot, while others rolled and built with slabs, and a few experienced artists made gorgeous creations with advanced attachment techniques.
You can read about ceramic arts, you can create 3D cardboard sculptures, but nothing takes the place of molding a ball of clay into your own meaningful artwork. As with any art project, students also developed their skills and understanding of safety, cleanliness in workspaces, responsibility of materials, craftsmanship, and pride in the finished product.
What did you enjoy about this project?
My favorite part of the project was seeing each student’s individuality come through their work. Whether in the initial design, the carved details, or the painting at the end; each project was very unique did exactly what we set out to do – expressed the interests of the student. The many projects completed included a variety of mugs and bowls, keepsake boxes, a totem pole, a Tiki mask, a Chinese dragon, and a shrine.