Students' concerns for nature featured in art show

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Sauk Trail fourth-grade students and senior citizens from around the area teamed up on a project this past year that combined art and the environment.

The result was more than 60 pieces of art that demonstrated the students’ concern about the importance of preserving local nature. The works are now on display at Middleton Glen and will be available at three other locations for public viewing the next few weeks.

The exhibit opened for a week’s run on July 22 at Middleton Glen, 6720 Century Ave. with a reception for the artists and hosted by the senior citizens.  More than three dozen students, parents, teachers, seniors, MCPASD Education Foundation board members, and Friends of the Pheasant Branch Conservancy attended.

To see more photos from the reception, please visit the District's Facebook page.

Other scheduled showings will be at:

  • Aug. 4-15: Heritage Middleton Assisted Living, 6206 Maywood Ave.
  • Aug. 18-29: Middleton Senior Citizen Center, 7448 Hubbard Ave.
  • Sept. 3-13: Rosemary Garfoot Public Library, Cross Plains.

Positive feedback from attendees at the reception was overwhelming, said Tom Kobinsky, who is the secretary for the Education Foundation and helped write the grant that funded the project.

“I heard one guest say that the art on display was a good, or better, as the professional pieces on sale at Madison's  recent Art Fair on the Square,’’ Kobinsky said. “All of us involved in the project had a truly wonderful, inspiring experience, and the fine art created demonstrates that.’’

“Students Inter-generational Art to Protect Nature’’ began by observing and discussing nature, wildlife, and habitats seen at Pheasant Branch Conservancy and behind Sauk Trail, which is located at 2205 Branch St., Middleton. The students then spent an afternoon interviewing senior citizens at Middleton Glen Retirement Community, Heritage Senior Living, and Middleton Senior Center to hear what the environment was like when the seniors were fourth-graders.

Back in the classroom, students discussed what they learned, along with what has changed in nature, the environment, and in life. They agreed there is a strong need to protect natural resources for future generations.

Students in each of the three fourth-grade classrooms created a booklet, drawing a scene from nature for each letter of the alphabet and writing about it. Students and art teacher Anne Gustafson then discussed what each would create to represent their observation of nature with connections to the seniors’ tales.

They chose from materials such as clay, watercolors, acrylic paints, pencil, and plaster to create their art. Several seniors came to observe the creative process and a few even picked up brushes of their own to help, Kobinsky said.

“Our students created some amazing art,’’ Gustafson said. “We are very proud of their creativity. They really enjoyed meeting and collaborating with the seniors. Both our students and the seniors learned a lot from each other. And everyone had such great fun.’’

Gustafson and Kobinsky created a souvenir booklet where each artist describes their creation beside a photo of the art. Other photos in the 36-page booklet show students talking with seniors, exploring local nature, and working in the art room.

John Daly of Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy and Rita Shimniok from Covenant Creations lent their time and talents to the project. Classroom teachers Wendy Coyne, Sue Porter and Katie Parsons, student teacher Sammi Van Ess and Sauk Trail principal Chris Dahlk contributed valuable assistance along the way, Kobinsky said.

The project was funded by an $8,000 grant from American Girl’s Fund for Children.