BY EILEEN PERSIKE
In a time of instant messaging, drawing apps on smart phones and information at our fingertips, a group of Rhinelander sixth graders are learning to slow down. Two of Josh Calhoun’s art classes at James Williams Middle School are creating murals using clay tiles. The semester-long project started with drawings, woodland animals for one mural, “Under the Sea” creatures for another, on paper and transferring the images onto 91 tiles. From there students rolled coils of clay and attached them to the outlines.
“It’s a very long process but I enjoy it,” said student David Sprague. “It’s fun.”
David and his classmates are painting their mural, which means they are nearing completion.
The theme for this project is “Four Seasons.”
“There are some students who are really interested in this and there are some who are not,” Calhoun said. “The two boys who were working here – they aren’t so excited about it, but if I give them a job, they are in here, engaging.”
Each animal, plant and pond will be painted with three layers of glaze before being fired. It’s an opportunity for students to work collaboratively on something special.
“I like it because I get to work with people – it’s teamwork,” said Dana Eliason. “And I like painting.”
Eliason created the coyote and classmate Gavin Sizemore drew a howling wolf and a badger. When all pieces are painted and fired to a glossy finish, Calhoun said he’ll be putting the mural together, tile by tile and it will be mounted in the school’s cafeteria area.
It takes patience, sixth grader Tyler Morrison said. But getting the students engaged in art, and taking ownership of a group project is a lesson unto itself, teacher Calhoun remarked.
“This has been a successful project,” he said. “It just brings the kids together and they really buy into it.”