Students create art using trash


Inspired by two artists they researched during Black History Month, a class of fourth graders at Conger Elementary School recently completed and displayed art projects made of recycled materials.

Fourth grade teacher Amber Bauer said that several years ago her students did presentations and poster-boards about different people during Black History Month, and during those presentations, she learned about Bill Traylor and Tyree Guyton, artists who both used cardboard or other discarded materials to create art.

Inspired by Traylor and Guyton, Bauer collected cardboard and other trash from teachers at the school and gave her students the assignment to use those materials to create art.

“It’s a cheap, easy way to get kids creating,” Bauer said. “This year, several kids brought things from home that they wanted to add. We learn about the artists and their work, and then the kids make their own.”

Bauer said the projects ran alongside research into Black History Month that students did, and about half the students tied their project to their historical research, even though they didn’t have to.

“Everybody did both parts, some were connected, some weren’t,” Bauer said. “We learned about a lot of really cool people. Black History Month is always a really hard topic to cover. I am torn between teaching history, but sometimes it’s really hard to talk about those things with kids, especially in fourth grade. When the bad things come up, they are brokenhearted (and ask), “Why is it like that?” This is a way to celebrate people. There’s definitely a time and place for the bad. It’s a really cool way to celebrate people and focus on positive contributions.”

Bauer said the project allowed students to explore their own interests, and she was pleased to see them help each other out and collaborate.

“It easily lends itself to a lot of variety, a lot of choice, but it’s still a project,” Bauer said. “They are achieving the same goals but allowed to put their own interests in there. Even if they weren’t working together, they would still share information. We learned about a lot of really cool people. There was a lot of learning. The kids love to create. They absolutely love (hands-on stuff). They thrive in it. It’s messy and stressful at times, but I feel like they really get a lot out of it.”

Fourth grader Morgan Maxey agreed and said she enjoyed taking the cardboard and other materials and using them to “see how creative we could be.”

Amaya Mickes, a fourth grader, said she enjoyed the research component.

“My favorite part was researching because we got to research a bunch of facts about a person,” Amaya said.

Nora Castle, a fourth grader, said the project was a good outlet for their creativity.

“We were using our creativity to make stuff,” Nora said. “It was out of trash so we let our imaginations go wild.”

Julia Wheeler, a fourth grader, enjoyed the project for a much more straightforward reason.

“I liked it because we got to make a mess,” Julia said, before she was met with laughter and agreement from her classmates.

The projects were displayed at the school on Thursday and Friday, and Bauer said students will get to choose to take them home or return them to the trash.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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