Two years ago, Methow Valley fourth graders (Class of 2021) began thinking about their legacy. When they transitioned from the elementary school two years hence, they wanted to leave the school with a gift for the generations of students behind them. Guided by parent and Methow Conservancy associate director Sarah Brooks, the students explored the concepts of philanthropy and fundraising and hosted an event to generate some seed money for a future project. As they thought about their role in a philanthropic endeavor, they decided that they wanted to leave a lasting physical improvement at the elementary school. After some brainstorming and debate, they settled on a plan that brought bright floral life to the Methow Valley Elementary School art room.
Working with teaching artist Deirdre Cassidy through Methow Arts’ Artist-in-Residence program, the students studied the work of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, in particular her large representational paintings of flowers. After sketching their own designs, they used acrylics to paint these images on the stools in the art room.
The O’Keeffe-style stools are now circles of bright color in the art room; they bloom with vivid reds, purples, and blues, as well as soft pastels that complement the more vibrant paintings. Not only do the colorful new stools provide a visually stimulating environment in the art room, but they also serve as a teaching tool for future students who would like to learn about O’Keeffe’s work, her aesthetic, and her role in the American Modernist movement.
In a push to further enhance the art room’s appeal, some students created a “Wordle”—a word mosaic comprised of words describing what art means to them—which they hung on the art room wall.
The sixth grade class of 2015 may have moved on from Methow Valley Elementary, but their legacy is one that will delight and inspire the generations that follow in their footsteps.
This art residency was brought to students by Methow Arts’ Okanogan Region Arts Education Partnership. The partnership serves more than 5,200 students and 370 teachers across Okanogan County with arts programs in classrooms in the Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, Bridgeport, Pateros, and Methow School Districts, and in the Paschal Sherman Indian School. Project sponsors include the Public School Funding Alliance, the Methow Valley Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, the Methow Valley School District, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ArtsWA.
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