On a day when middle school students from St. Michael-Albertville West could choose to do almost anything they want as they “explored” the world inside and outside of their building, several hooked up with art teacher April Erickson to contribute two new art installations.
In the school’s media center, fifth through eighth-graders plugged away at several art installations that followed the theme of “How can YOU make the world better?”
Dangling from the ceiling of the media center’s centrum, the pieces focused on subjects such as keeping lakes and rivers clean to being kind and respectful to one another.
The project was driven by St. Paul artist Julia Helen Rice, a friend of Erickson’s who volunteered to help install the works and cooperatively lead the exploratory day for several students.
“It’s been a really fun to come out and work with the kids and just see their ideas,” Rice said.
Media center specialist Nancy Eull said she’s been “hoping for some new artwork” for the area, and the project was a perfect fit.
Meanwhile, back in Erickson’s room, the annual STMA Middle School West mural project was underway, with several students working with former art instructor and local artist Reid Thorpe on a landscape (pictured below) that captured the essence of the state of Minnesota.
“Many of the kids want to stay here and do something within the school,” Erickson said. “That’s something we’ve found out over the past couple of years. So we’ve organized this. It’s kind of a way to beautify your own building, which has its attributes. It’s a kind of community service, for sure.”
A portion of Exploratory Day is also to expose middle school students to future careers. Art can be a part of that, Erickson said.
“I think they find it interesting meeting someone who can, really, make a living off of something they’re passionate about, like art,” she said. “So introducing them to people like Reid, or Julia, or myself – for the kids who haven’t had my class – it is a way to show them that, yes, you can do this and make a living. It’s possible.”
A slideshow of the photos from the artwork and artists can be found here, and below, via NWCToday’s Flickr stream.