Friday, December 22, 2023
A Science and an Art: Local Middle School Students Showcase Talents
French philosopher Henri Bergson said art sometimes resembles the artist. That’s the point of one assignment, a mixed-media self-portrait contour line collage, in Mrs. Shanae Dees’s art class. But other projects this semester, including accordion books and candy wrapper grid paintings, revealed the budding Shelbyville Middle School artists in more subtle, Bergsonesque ways.
Although middle school visual arts classes are designed to intrigue the novice, Dees, who holds a degree in ceramics from IUPUI Herron School of Art, also challenges students to develop their artistic acumen.
“I love to see eighth-grade students appreciate the fact that I have pushed them with rigorous studio assignments over the past three years to make them grow,” she said. “Although they see the assignments as frustrating and tough in the beginning, they have the realization that doing hard things has made them better artists.”
Her students soon learn the science of art.
Seventh-grader Haydee Dircio recently spent seven class periods on a “These hands have…” accordion book. She learned contour hand drawings from observation with her non-dominant hand as a drawing source. She then used the marker monoprint process, in which she applied Crayola washable markers to a Ziploc bag, sprayed the bag with water and then pressed paper onto its surface, the water droplets and marker creating a tie-dye effect of unique patterns. She then dyed an 8” x 18” paper in contrasting color to her hands to make them more visible, and used the paper as pages of her accordion book. She also dyed smaller paper for cover wraps.
All of that only to lose the project and complete it again in three days.
“Although it was a bit rushed, I had a lot of fun re-doing it,” Dircio said.
She and her classmates then self-critiqued and edited their artwork before choosing the five best hands in the class. Dircio was thrilled to make the cut.
But she wasn’t finished yet. She and her classmates next created sentence starters with a life event they had experienced using their five senses as a guide.
“Students used a form of personification by writing these experiences through the perspective of their hands,” Dees said. “We know that your hands cannot physically taste something, but they were with you when you might have tasted the saltiness of the ocean.”
Dircio’s hands thus “tasted the Mexican food my mom made”, smelled “the spring coming” and “heard the laughs of my friends.”
The text and hands were combined in the composition, and students assembled the books with glue and a ribbon for a tie. They then chose an interesting title and added it to their covers. Since it is an accordion format, the books can be viewed from both sides.
Other class projects are just as intricate. Eighth-grader Reagan Spannuth said she liked creating 2D and 3D designs in clay. She also drew the crushed cans visible in the top photo.
“I chose to do a Coke can because I got to drink it on day two,” Spannuth said.
Mason Miano, a sixth-grader, said middle school art is giving him a chance to explore drawing and sketching, both long-time interests.
“I use several different tools such as pencils, markers, colored pencils, blending stumps and pens,” Miano said. “I think the most important thing that I focus on when drawing is the details.”
His mixed-media self-portrait is at the top of the photo above.
“Seeing the finished product helps me understand what I am capable of doing with my art abilities,” Miano said. “I always have the goal in mind of improving from one drawing to the next.”
Seeing such commitment to craftsmanship makes teaching art a satisfying career, Dees said. “I enjoy seeing their faces light up with confidence when they discuss taking their finished works of art home to share with their families and put on the walls of their bedrooms.”
This Day in Shelby County History
2013: Flood waters started receding in Shelbyville with the arrival of colder temperatures and snow flurries. The Big Blue River had crested at 18.3 feet. The levee did have some seepage in the area just west of City Cemetery, and Sunset Park was completely flooded.
2003: The 2004 political season was officially underway, with Roger Laird, former chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, announcing he would be running for county commissioner. Laird was the business manager at Indiana Cash Drawer, where he had worked for 16 years.
1993: Poinsettias were a top seller this time of year, local florists said. Cossairt Co. had sold about 1,000 plants to non-commercial buyers in the ‘93 Christmas season, Jim Cossairt said. Dugan’s Flowers and Gifts said sales were consistent with recent years.
1983: The host Golden Bears finished runner-up in the Shelby Relay swimming meet. The Bears had teams entered in only seven of the 10 events, and won every event they were entered in. Kirk Smith returned from being ill to swim a great 500. Rich Soller, Rusty Tindall and Oliver Abeleda all swam consecutive relays, and Steve Fero had to go to the back portion of the relay. Steve Bartels, Mike Blanner and Bruce Horton also stepped up with strong performances.
1973: The annual Cerebral Palsy Development Center Christmas party was held with over 30 volunteers stepping in to help. A newspaper photo showed Niki Cazzell sitting on the lap of a giant stuffed Santa toy, and Marquita Richards, Buddy Armstrong, Cindy Coers and Amy Britt playing with toys that a live Santa had brought.
1963: Linda Jones, Shelbyville High School senior and daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Delaney Jones, won the Good Citizen Award for Shelby County, sponsored by the Indiana Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. Sheryl Warder (Southwestern) placed second and Susan Hatton (Waldron), third. Carol Ann Hall (Morristown) was also a candidate, as was Betty Asher (Triton).
1953: The Shelbyville High School basketball team defeated Richmond a night after beating Muncie Central. Senior Bob Mullen, sophomore Bob Cowherd and junior Willie Wilson led the offensive attack against the Red Devils. Sophomores Don Brown and Ronnie Mitchell also had strong performances. With the lead, the Bears stalled in the fourth quarter, attempting only one basket.
1943: Christmas programs were held at local schools before dismissal for break. Junior-Senior High School programs were directed by George Small and Mrs. Wayne Williams. Plays and recitations were given at Booker T. Washington School. A program with Christmas music and carols was held at Charles Major, where the First Presbyterian Church pastor read the Christmas story. Colescott School students watched two movies in the school auditorium, followed by Albert Winders reciting “The Night Before Christmas” while dressed as Santa Claus. The Walkerville school program featured singing of “America the Beautiful” and a pledge of allegiance. Betty Jo Miller served as emcee.
1933: About 20 women and 5 men approached city council with issues regarding City Cemetery. They wanted the digging of graves in lanes between lots in the cemetery, which they owned, to be discontinued. “Most of the burials in the aisles at the cemetery have been burials of the pauper dead, it was pointed out,” The Republican said. “The petitioners urged that additional land be annexed for the City Cemetery, for use in such burials. The spokesman for the petitioners cited that it was not the intention of the city council that platted the cemetery, in 1864, that the aisles should be used for burials.”
1923: Local furniture factories would be closed between Christmas and the new year, company officials announced. Some employees would remain on board for inventory.