Grandpa Green and Seurat

Don’t you love it when things sort of collide in a good way?  This morning I was doing some web searches for a pinterest board I’d like to do for Vermont’s children’s choice award, the Red Clover Award.  One of this year’s titles is Lane Smith’s Grandpa Green, which you probably already know is about how a grandpa uses/creates topiary to capture the memories of his long life.  So in a search for “topiary” I discovered this marvel…and a close-up.  And what famous artist and painting did we study last year and re-create in caps?  You got it!

So this year when we talk about topiary and Grandpa Green we can also reflect back on what we learned last year.  And the students will appreciate the workmanship of the topiary, having re-created the painting in another way.  Cool times two!

It All Started with Ranger Rick…

It’s been a rare experience for me to feel like I’ve helped  make something BIG happen in my school.  Lots of little things, sure, but nothing BIG.  Until recently, that is.  And it’s SO COOL!  Last spring I read an article in the May issue of Ranger Rick magazine called Cool Caps about the work of Michelle Stitzlein, a sculptor who works in schools to create murals using recycled/re-used plastic caps.  These come from laundry detergent, bottles of water, peanut butter jars, you name it.  Michelle and her students turn them into beautiful works of art!

I got excited about the possibilities for our school and asked my principal what he thought. He loved the idea and so did our art teacher.  Judy is part-time and is retiring at the end of this year, so she agreed to take this on as an artist-in-residence project on the days that she typically isn’t with us.

I put out a call in June for families to save caps all summer and by golly they rolled in by the thousands (in a tub outside the library door) from September through January!  I saw to it that the caps were sanitized (by our fabulous kitchen staff and their deluxe dishwasher) and then organized many a group during rainy day recesses to come and sort by color.  Soon a rainbow of  caps began to grow in see-through bins on top of the library shelves.

Judy wanted to choose an artist and technique to focus on and Georges Seurat and  pointillism  were logical choices.  Judy worked closely with Jen, a fabulous intern, to get the panels ready.   Students did lots of problem-solving for the composition, they painted, and many glued on caps.  Parent volunteers and staff members screwed the caps in place and the results are amazing!  I present to you some highlights from our version of Cool Caps!  (There are 27 slides–don’t miss the ending.  You won’t believe what our kids did!  Gives me goosebumps every time I walk by now.)