A few days ago I found images from a sculpture project my teaching colleague Skipper Bennett and I did with our 5th graders in 2009. Time flies. Our student artists made a herd of found wood horses based on the work of sculptor Deborah Butterfield. Today I look at this project as an old friend that I found again by chance and would like you to meet now.
What struck me as I looked at this project now is how often artists find their inspiration in nature’s left-overs or in cast-offs from other processes. Somehow the artistic mind is able to put the random pieces of our visual world into their unique art, much like writers take random thoughts and build their writing into a cohesive whole. Small artistic world isn’t it?
Skipper and I had a great process for this project, from the original seed of the idea, which came from another teacher, Mary Fields, showing us Deborah Butterfield’s work, all the way through the finished project.
We started with a field trip to Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth. Their education department worked with us to highlight some wonderful equine artworks on the trip.
Finally a stop at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, to take in Butterfield’s horse. It was an amazing experience.
Next the students toured the Bryant Art Foundry in Azle, Texas, where our kids saw the steps of creating a metal sculpture. It is an invaluable part of any art form, learning the process of how things are really produced. The people at the foundry could not have been nicer or more willing to share with our students. Remarkable people.
Back at school we had a studio space to work in (a portable building), because this was messy work.
The wood was procured from the local land fill. Recycling at its best
It was a challenge to get our students to see the bone structure of the horse and how the wood suggests where it should be joined.
We made maquettes of the horses we were about to build to teach the students the basics of combining wood shapes.
Still when you are asked to make a horse, then confronted with a pile of branches and a spool of wire, it can be a daunting moment for a 5th grader!
We forged ahead and after weeks of work and a few thousand wire cuts, the horses were transported from the studio to the front of our school campus and staked and wired into the ground.
This was a special group of art students and you can see their talent and effort in their work.
The Travis Herd. Hope you enjoy their work as much as we did. The most fun I’ve had with stick horses since I was a kid!