Earlier this year, Joe Kirstein came to me with an interesting concept: what if EDS art students worked together to design 16 plant markers for the produce growing out at Flowing Wells? Well, of course, I thought this was a fabulous idea! My husband and I got to work- we went to Lowe’s and bought a set of 25 garden stakes, cut wooden rectangles out of wood, and drilled them together.
Then came the tricky part: Which students/group of students should paint them? Joe and I decided that it would be great to “commission” a variety of lower school artists from 2nd-4th grade. I pulled several names from a hat from each class and designated garden stakes to students. Joe sent me a list of 16 fuits/vegetables and I printed off reference photos of each so that students could look at them while sketching them.
As you can see, students sketched and painted large scale fruits/veggies on the wooden rectangles. They also painted designs on their wooden stakes!
Meanwhile, my 1st graders and 2nd graders were learning about metal tooling. I had some extra metal, so I let one class of students carve designs into sheets of metal and another class “antique” the metal using india ink. We talked about why some gardeners liked to place reflective/mirror like devices in their gardens. We discussed how metal can help reflect sunlight and discourage bugs from hanging around!
I glued the metal sheets to the backs of the garden stakes and let these younger students paint the backs and sides of them. They clearly had a good time playing a role in this important project for Flowing Wells.
Lastly, I sketched out the name of each fruit/veggie over the dried paintings and commissioned my 6th graders to make the letters pop with paint pens. Didn’t they turn out awesome?
We got all 16 of these plant markers cranked out in one week and almost every 1st-4th grader (plus 6th grade) was involved somehow. My art curriculum wasn’t interrupted and students were all working on their normal projects in addition to this fun collaborative commission. Just like the act of growing produce out at Flowing Wells, creating art is about community, working together, and contributing your own unique flare. I love that these garden stakes didn’t “belong” to anyone and how they were passed around across grade levels.
Later this week, Joe will take a group of lower school students out to Flowing Wells property to install these plant markers. I can’t wait to watch this project come full-circle and share pictures with you. Awesome work, EDS!