Chihuly chandelier

Chihuly chandelier. Photo by Maddie Evans.

Forest Meadow Junior High art students created and installed a cafeteria chandelier and window display as part of their study of Dale Chihuly, the American glass sculptor. Art teacher Maddie Evans, in her second year at FMJH, is beaming with pride at her students.

“This was a great beginning-of-the-year project,” said Evans, “because it called for collaboration and a sense of community. I wanted to choose a project that explored how teamwork is essential in sculpture and that this specific art form is often a contribution to the environment in which it is installed. They needed to know that the small jobs they did in class were part of a big project that would forever be at Forest Meadow.

“The chandelier that hangs in our cafeteria is based on Chihuly’s ‘Fire and Water.’ We focused specifically on Chihuly’s use of warm and cool colors and how we would transfer knowledge of his artistic process to our own process. For example, we watched a time-lapse video of Chihuly’s sculpture being installed and observed how they began at the bottom and worked their way up as they attached each part individually.

“The first few days were filled with coloring at least 2 bottles per class with cool colors (since they were at the bottom). Then the class became that cliché of every art room: to the average observer it may look like ‘organized chaos,’ but to us, we were all bouncing around doing separate jobs to get the sculpture done. I set up stations in the classroom so that there was always something to do: coloring bottles, cutting in a spiral, attaching the cut bottles and melting the colored bottle bottoms. I also had a group of 3 girls at a ‘drawing station,’ to study the preliminary drawings and sculptures of Chihuly and make informational posters.”

“Chihuly is very good at what he does,” said 7th grader Keldrick Demus, who admits he wasn’t terribly interested in studying the artist until the hands-on work began. “He is someone I look up to.”

“I learned of Chihuly’s amazing art skills and craftsmanship,” agreed 8th grader Kiesha Hamilton. “His work is very unique and beautiful, and it’s nice to think he does such a dangerous art form for us to look at and appreciate.”

“I love this project,” said Markicea Shania Smith, “because as we went along, I learned about a person that I never knew about before. I also learned that you can meet new friends by doing art. I love art so much now.”

“For me,” said Alan Alfara Meza (translated from Spanish), “art is the combination of infinite colors and forms that are able to communicate feelings and emotions.”

I wonderful if it sounded that beautiful in Spanish.

To create the artwork, the students used recycled bottles donated by school staff members.

“I want to be an art teacher who encourages students to adopt a sense of accomplishment and confidence, learn to take chances, and explore their strengths,” said Evans. “I want to give them the courage to be creative and innovative in not just art, but in other classes too. Giving a student the chance to explore any newfound strengths or passions in their pre-adult years is important because it is a time when they are starting to determine who they are as individuals. It is a developmental time when encouragement is essential for a student’s academic and future success.”

You can see the students’ creations when you shop at Market in the Meadow October 24 and 25.

Chihuly window creations. Photo by Kristen Harris.

Chihuly window creations. Photo by Maddie Evans.

Students at work. Photo by Kristen Harris.

Students at work. Photo by Maddie Evans.

Cafeteria window. Photo by Kristen Harris.

Cafeteria window. Photo by Maddie Evans.