Shannon Green’s first period fifth grade art class wasn’t just on another planet; it was in a whole new universe. Cows jumped over moons. Rockets launched into space as volcanoes erupted in the background. Ice cream cones floated through stars encapsulated in protective bubbles.
Eventually, these disparate scenes will coalesce into a broad mural that has become something of a tradition for the outgoing fifth graders at Osceola Elementary School in Naples. The six-feet by nine-feet installation is the second such project created in collaboration between the school and Artis— Naples. Under the direction of Green and Jessica Wozniak, Artis—Naples’ Curator of Education, the month-long mural-making expedition will help about 120 students explore more than just outer space, but also a variety of art techniques and social skills.
“This is teaching them to work in collaboration, that each step matters and to have pride in their campus,” Green says. “They are learning techniques, but also how to work together, how to work independent of direction and problem solving.”
She also says because not every student’s original artwork was selected to be part of the mural, the work is teaching them that they can have joint ownership of work and ideas and play just as crucial a role in the project’s completion.
The mural project is just one of many partnerships between Artis—Naples’ education team and the local schools. This particular program, ArtSmart, has been going on since 2006. Wozniak has myriad activities lined up in the program throughout the school year, both on and off campus, that tie in student creativity with exhibitions on display at The Baker Museum.
“This project started off with us talking to the students about Mexican muralists and what they were trying to convey through their work,” Wozniak says. “We talked about artists like Diego Rivera, who they can see in the museum, and the artistic process they used.”
Throughout the room, various stations are working on different parts of the mural. A group of boys is shredding tissue paper that will be used to create a tiedye-like painting effect. Another is tracing projections of smaller drawings onto the large pieces of primed canvas that will be home to the final product.
Mallie Blake is working with a group of girls who are painting with the tissue paper, creating a blue and purple space scape.
“I like doing this (mural) because I’m getting to do it with all my friends,” the 10-year-old says. “It’s cool because art lets you really express your feelings.”
For her part, Green says this collaboration between the school and Artis— Naples allows her to take the students further into the creative process than she could do on her own. The 14-year veteran of Collier County schools is blunt in her description of the help Artis—Naples is providing. “Without Artis—Naples, without Jessica this wouldn’t be possible,” she says. “I absolutely couldn’t do this by myself.”
Want to get in on the fun of creating art with your family? Head to a Makeand- Take Workshop at The Baker Museum on the first Wednesday of each month. Curator of Education Jessica Wozniak will be your guide for the great youth art experience. Free with admission to the museum, artisnaples.org/education/family.