Art Exhibit is Johnston Teacher, Student Collaboration

Published: June 1, 2015

justpassingthroughJust Passing Through is on display through July 30 at the Frank Creech Art Gallery.

Just Passing Through, the latest art exhibit on display in the Frank Creech Art Gallery on the Johnston Community College campus, is a cool collaboration between art teachers and students.

East Carolina graduate candidate and Benson Middle art teacher Magen Pike began the 2014 school year with an idea for her culminating project of transitions and doors. She then contacted five talented teachers in Johnston County Schools and began a collaborative school project.

With students involved from six schools, grades kindergarten through twelfth grade, students created work on doors each different yet alike with the theme of transition. Lesson throughout the year involved single students, classes of learners, teachers and students across grade levels and multiple school collaborations. Students created imagery and writings reflecting visions of their past, present and anticipated future. The imagery connected self, community, consumerism, human emotions, environment, society and the globe. Magen Pike, the graduate candidate and the project facilitator, used a variety of watercolor, collage and combine art methods in her lessons instructions.

Students studied the work of Robert Rauschenberg, current global issues and ways to cope through art activities. Students used multimedia to record, edit and present videos of teachers and mentors providing advice for their future on the back of the door. The front of the door was scattered with pictures and collages created by students representing their present self. A bicycle wheel was installed over a painting of a wheel and could be spun during the show. Students created a slide show of photographs from birth to present time to stream on a tablet below an installed light bulb fitted to the door with a workable switch. The light bulb's actual function symbolically represented the bright thoughts of a child and their memories.

For the past and present, Katie Gentry, art teacher at West View Elementary, created lessons inspired by the artist Andy Warhol. Students learned about the life and work of Andy Warhol while creating the door. Andy Warhol was quoted for saying, "Everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes," which eventually changed to, "15 minutes of fame." The quote was painted onto the front of the door. Students colored in copies of Campbell Soup cans in manner of Pop art as well as following Warhol's idea that art should be mass produced, as if in a factory. These soup cans were cut out and collaged onto the front of the door. For the back of the door we wanted to represent the future. Students described how they would be famous for 15 minutes in the future. These quotes were then typed up and collaged onto the back of the door. A stopwatch was added to represent time and a mirror was used to be the face of the clock. The mirror allows the viewer to see their reflection as they approach the door while reading the question, "What will be your 15 minutes of fame?" Students were asked to write how they Students were inspired by the television show sixty minutes. The television show's logo was the influence for the layout of the back or future side of the door with a reflective mirror and quotes of fifteen minutes of fame from many West view elementary students.

Kelly Pike Crocker, artist and elementary art teacher at Princeton Elementary, created her door with lessons inspired by the artist Marc Chagall's I and the Village. The lessons began by asking the staff at Princeton Elementary, "What makes you happy?" Crocker mixes narration, organic and geometric shapes, and color schemes to convey meaning in the Princeton school door.

The connection to I and the Village are inspired by the broken planes of cubism and Chagall's personal message. In Chagall's piece he center's the painting like Crocker with an organic tree. Crocker similar to Chagall connects our dreams and nightmares, a connection to our childhood and our community, day and night. The students and teachers collaborated at Princeton school, colors, shapes, reflections with writing are seen throughout the door.

Christina Schaffer the art teacher at Smithfield Middle School has always found ways to utilize a variety of materials in unique ways. During the project students discussed the importance of direct multisensory experiences and interpretation in relationship to Andy Goldsworthy's art. Goldsworthy's art encompasses both ephemeral and permanent characteristics of change. Students took the internal earth approach with a variety of materials. The internal earth connected their door the internal layers of the earth. The internal emotion is represented by the inner layers of the earth and the concept of the internal self. For the future, students created an external galaxy with a cool color scheme and a galaxy motif design. Each side of the door was created with a variety of recycled materials creating a tactile surface. Students created a text component along the inner ridge of the door frame. The art and text method of delivery was created to add a narration of student feelings using scrap magazine clippings of words collaged into phrases. The phrases were finalized into a "poetry" of thoughts expressing feeling not internalizing their feelings.

Abby Boykin, one of the art teachers at Corinth Holders High School, was also part of the collaborative project. She is passionate about art because she sees the connection art has to everyone's life. Beginning art students dissected Peter Max's work and style in formulating their pieces. They composed them out of color pencil and Sharpie. National Art Honor Society students were given free rein in material choices as long as it didn't smudge too much with mod podge application. The process is also reflected in the results seen in the exhibit. The front is based on a lesson and the artworks are very identical in nature, and the back is based on an abstract idea and thus all are very different. Students brainstormed that the door would opened into something that the door in essence, opens to a path of opportunity. The front side of the door represented the present. The artwork on the front was composed by fall 2014 beginning art students at Corinth Holders High School and the logos and items that best represent them currently. The front is very geometric and structured in rows and columns symbolizing the rules that govern the student through school and home. The borders are black representing mystery, the unknown in their lives. The door opening and opposite side (back) represents the interpretation of their future created by the National Art Honor Society. These students are higher level art students who know what their future entitles.

The back represents artwork that defines student's future goals and plans are, some more abstract than others. They also tied together with cooler colors representing peace and calmness. The artwork also tied together more organic and free-flowing shapes with a green base of the door represents the grass, vines and roots that the students are coming from because Corinth Holders is a rural area and students mostly live in the country, this ties the front and back together with this symbolism. This also represents the connection of one's present always connects to Megan Jones, art teacher at South Johnston High School, guided students with lessons focused on the thought behind their door being the advancement of technology over time. Students thought about where they used to be (front of the door) versus where they are now (back of the door). The front of the door representing must haves, items, and activities of the past like: renting movies from a video store, writing a letter, playing a video game, reading a newspaper, etc.

The back of the door's art students created a smartphone with apps that relate to each of the things on the front of the door. For example, people text now, rather than write letters, people watch movies on phones/tablets rather than rent them from a store, they use the Internet to look up news rather than search for a newspaper to read, etc. Students compared generations (teachers vs. students) with the door because most teachers are old enough to remember doing the things that are on the front of the door while students today are more familiar with the apps on a smartphone. Students chose the quote by Walt Disney "Around here we don't look backwards for very long, we keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things" because it related to the actual door as well as explaining that things are constantly changing and improving.

The show's opening was held on May 18 at the Frank Creech Gallery. The installation exhibit will continue to run through July 30. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Cut line: Pictured from left are Megan Jones, Magen Pike, Katie Gentry, and Kelly Crocker.

Did you enjoy this story?

Share this article with your friends!