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February 2011. The 14th Annual ARTfeast Santa Fe is renowned for feeding the body and the soul with great food and great art.  In the latter category are paintings and sculptures by leading professional artists.  Just as significant, however, are the artworks created by the city’s elementary and high school students, which are sold throughout the weekend.

Inspired Innovations by NM School of the Arts Students

Students from the New Mexico School of the Arts painted bamboo bowls, which will be sold in a silent auction at the Fashion Show and Luncheon.

Many Perspectives Sculptures

For the past several years students in Al Trujillo’s Santa Fe High School advanced welding classes have created metal sculptures that are in a silent auction, which takes place this year during the Art of Home Tour. Proceeds are split between student-artists and ARTsmart.

Sgraffito Tile Project by Santa Fe & Capital High School Students Tile by Brittany Garcia

Honorary Artist Rebecca Tobey introduced high school students to painted ceramics and sgraffito, which they used to create tiles.  “We talked about the history of sgraffito and the difference between it and modern-day graffiti,” she relates. “The kids were creative, unique, and talented in their designs.”  Each 8-by-8 inch tile is a one-of-a-kind artwork set in a frame suitable as a trivet or wall hanging.  SFPS teachers Sallie Dinwiddie and Joseph Sulzberg assisted. The tiles are auctioned at the Gourmet Dinner. Proceeds are split between student-artists and ARTsmart.

“I Made It!” Plate Winners by SFPS Elementary Students Grand Award Plate by Santiago Lujan

In October 2010, more than 1,000 elementary students participated in the Placemat & Plate Project using materials supplied by ARTsmart. Inspired by their art teachers, the children created placemats that were judged by an ARTfeast panel. One hundred were selected to be fired. Each child created two plates: one to keep and one that is auctioned to fund ARTsmart projects.  The placemats are used at the seated events throughout the weekend.

Plate Sets

Four plate projects were selected to become plate sets of 12 unique plates. Each set was selected based on creative themes inspired by the art teachers. The sets will be auctioned throughout the weekend, one of which is a raffle.  Following are comments on all four plate sets.

Gourmet Graffiti created by Eldorado Students guided by Roni Rohr and raffled throughout ARTfeast weekend.  Winner announced at the Artists’ Brunch. Plate by Rowan Cahill

“I chose graffiti, which is really a form of calligraphy, because it is a edgy, hot topic these days. There are numerous books about it that I brought into the classroom. We talked about the history of graffiti, why people do it, and when or where it is appropriate to use it.  I also teach a class in social justice and art, which is about expressing what is important to you. We brainstormed food words. The kids got to select the word that meant the most to them.  One child chose the word bubbles for her plate. We talked about the fact that bubbles isn’t exactly a food word. She considered changing but stayed with her gut reaction and was chosen to make a plate, which is a very empowering experience.

“The placemat-to-plate process is essentially a class in design. I created a storyboard of the process, emphasizing that we are creating art with a purpose and something that will pop off a shelf. We used an Old School graffiti style because it requires measuring, math, and spatial perception—skills that kids will use for the rest of their lives.” Roni Rohr, Eldorado, rrohr@sfps.info

Marvelous Masks created by Kearny students guided by Gretel Wanenmacher and auctioned at the Fashion Show and Luncheon. Marvelous Masks Plate by Amara Gaur

“The students started the mask project by watching a video on the use of masks in cultures from around the world. The kids had their sketchbooks with them and were asked to draw things they liked. In the next session, they sketched out at least four mask ideas, drawing upon images they saw in the video. We also looked at photo posters of global masks.

“While emphasizing that these are not Halloween masks, I introduced the concept of masks used as characters in mythological stories throughout history. At the end of the mask project each student gave a name or title to their mask and wrote a paragraph explaining its character. The students chose one of their drawings to use for the ARTsmart plate. I guided them in finding the strongest design. After we did the ARTsmart project, we translated the designs into three-dimensional masks made of plaster and cloth.  The ARTsmart project helped students develop ideas for the larger lesson of mask-making.  Gretel Wanenmacher, Kearny, gwanenmacher@sfps.info

Planets to the Max! by Ramirez-Thomas students guided by Elaine Kidd and auctioned at the Gourmet Dinner. Planets to the Max Plate by Natalia Gonzalez

“I selected planets because they are round—a perfect concept for plates. Peter Max, who uses planets in his art, has a style that is ideal for elementary schoolchildren. We began with color printouts and a PowerPoint presentation of Max’s celestial art. I emphasized two of his techniques: (1) He always illustrates a landscape or edge of a planet from which to view his celestial art, so I encouraged the students to create some terra firma to stand on to view outer space. Most chose the edge of a planet; a few did a landscape. (2) Max typically uses graded colors rather than solid colors, so the kids chose at least one planet and showed ranges of color. This lead to some outstanding effects that didn’t always meet the literal definition of gradation.

“My biggest fear was that the kids would copy his art, but they were natural space cadets and got the concept immediately. Toward the end of the process, I allowed them to free draw. Even after five weeks on the project, most wanted to make celestial scenes using Sharpies or watercolors. They were still engaged with planets after it ceased to be an assignment!” Elaine Kidd, Ramirez Thomas Elementary,  ekidd@sfps.info

Birds of a Feather by Carlos Gilbert & Acequia Madre students guided by Katy Hees and auctioned at the Artists’ Brunch. Birds of a Feather Plate by Kaya Suina

“I always start my classes with a life drawing session. In the past, I’ve brought in my dogs, a tarantula, my Jeep, or chickens. This year I borrowed a friend’s cockatiels and had the children draw them.  I encouraged the kids to look at the birds closely and to examine their appearance, which also makes this a science project in learning about animal anatomy, flight, habitat, and relationships to other bird species.

“Life drawing is tricky because the animals are always moving, but it engages the children’s attention. For the next step I brought in books, magazines, and tear sheets of various birds from my personal files. The children could either use their cockatiel drawing or select another bird, learning about its species. The translation of a drawing to a plate can be daunting, since the children must transform their images using paint brushes and porcelain slips in two different sizes.  But they love creating a tangible product that they can actually use.” Katy Hees, Carlos Gilbert & Acequia Madre,  khees@sfps.info