Student-made art installation on Utah ecosystems unveiled at James Madison Elementary
By MEGAN OLSEN Standard-Examiner Dec 12, 2019
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OGDEN — A long-term hanging art installation was unveiled Wednesday evening at James Madison Elementary.
The installation is composed of hanging faux stained glass pieces created by fourth graders at James Madison Elementary and students in an honors course at Weber State University. The installation hangs in the school’s atrium.
Every student in James Madison’s fourth grade — about 60 — participated in the project, said Tamara Goldbogen, the director of the Arts Learning Collaborative and the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair for Arts Learning at Weber State. In cooperation with Erinne Roundy, Goldbogen teaches the honors course at Weber State that participated in the project.
“They’ve been very proud of their creation, and they love that it’s hanging in the elementary school … in the central area,” Goldbogen said about the fourth graders. “… It’s actually really beautiful. They have this lovely … big area (which) has a sunken pit, and there’s a grid 20 feet in the air above it, and there’s … skylights, so there’s sun that comes in, and it’ll illuminate … this faux stained glass piece … that we created together.”
The faux stained glass is made with plexiglass and a black material called liquid leading.
The art installation focuses on Utah birds and ecosystems, part of the fourth grade science curriculum, Goldbogen said. Before undertaking the project, the elementary and college groups visited the Ogden Nature Center to learn about birds and ecosystems.
Fourth graders worked in pairs to design and create faux stained glass pieces depicting individual birds on 15-inch circles, with more than 30 birds species, all native to Utah, represented, Goldbogen said.
“We didn’t know if they were going to be able to … jump in and create something that would be recognizable and … work with the materials, but they did. They all did,” Goldbogden said. “And when you look at the pieces, they’re just beautiful, and each one is so different.”
College students in Weber State’s honors course, called Artsbridge, created large rectangular panels of faux stained glass depicting the birds’ major ecosystems — the forest, wetlands and desert.
“They designed the content and the layout,” Goldbogen said, about both the fourth graders and college students. “It wasn’t like a color by numbers situation. They really did have artistic license to create either the bird they envisioned or the ecosystem.”
Students in the honors course represent majors across campus, Goldbogen said. There was only one art major in the course. The group’s project with James Madison is the culmination of a semester spent learning about community art, including murals throughout the Ogden area.
Though the college students and elementary students worked together on the project, they never actually met because the Weber State honors course was held in the evenings.
To solve that problem, college students became pen pals with the students, writing them letters that became part of the students’ reading comprehension learning as they created art based on what their college pen pals wrote about.
The elementary and college-age pen pals got a chance to finally meet each other at the unveiling Wednesday.
Goldbogen and Roundy worked on the project with Brent Rhodes, the visual arts specialist at James Madison Elementary, a position made possible by the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program. Rhodes delivers art instruction at the school throughout the school year, Goldbogen said. (The program has specialists at certain elementary schools across Utah. Four specialists are located in Ogden School District, with each visiting more than one school.)
Financial and in-kind support for the project was provided by the Hall Endowment for Community Outreach, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program and Ogden Nature Center as well as Weber State’s Honors Program, Arts Learning Collaborative and Lindquist College of Arts and Humanities.