Portraits of Young People as Artists

The finished piece

The finished piece

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Our most recent art project was the brainchild of Alea. She introduced the art of British artist Andy Goldsworthy to the class last Friday and came up with a list of objects we could use to construct our own Land Art in the Learning Garden. A week later we entered the garden with no preconceived notions of what we were going to make.

What you see in the pictures evolved from ideas put out and bounced around by the students and Alea. It was amazing to see the amount of involvement and participation by the students. At the end, I asked for a show of hands for who came up with ideas for the project and over half the class raised their hands. Asked about who helped build or gather materials, the response was 100%. As with most art, this was about process, rather than product. The finished piece, shown in the top photo, will wilt, decay, and be blown away in short order.

According to Goldsworthy, “Each work grows, stays, decays – integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its heights, marking the moment when the work is most alive. There is an intensity about a work at its peak that I hope is expressed in the image. Process and decay are implicit.”
–From Wikipedia entry about Andy Goldsworthy

Thank you Alea for inspiring the class with this project. I am sure there are going to be Land Art projects springing up in backyards, near creeks and rivers, and on hiking trails for years to come.

And now, the young artists speak:

Today we had art. It was abstract using natural stuff like rocks, bark, bamboo,and pine cones. It was putting stuff on a birch tree and some of the other stuff is morning glory, flowers and leaves. We worked like a team back there. When it was done it looked beautiful as the Statue of Liberty. by Julian

Outside today I made a magnifying glass out of a stick and  three leaves. We also made art with a tree, pine cones, leaves, branches, berries, and rocks. We called it morning glory and it was cool looking at it. We worked as a group and came up with an idea of that. We gathered all that stuff out of the garden on the ground and the trees that was bad for them. by Macrory

Today we were going into the garden to make land art. First we found our space and then we decided what we were going to build. We said we were going to rap the tree in vines and then decorate it. Mr. Colvin brought some bamboo to use.
Nate’s mom sent some people into the garden to get some decorations and weeds. We used a Winter Birch tree for the base. We collected weeds and other things to rap around the tree. Then we went back and collected more.
After that we came back and Morning Glory was wrapped around the tree  and flowers too. I started to put leaves around the tree along with flowers, berries, and other things. I stood back to look at what we’d made; it looked so cool.
Then Nate’s mom told us to sit down. It was now time to add the bamboo.We had lots of ideas but mine was chosen. We put the bamboo up in a half circle in the back of the tree. We all stood back to look and it was awesome.
I was proud to say that our class made that land art. by Leah

Today we did some land art in the garden. We first made a ring around the tree with vines. Then we put leaves on top of it that were dead and made a crown out of them.
Next I went out into the garden with a group of people and we all collected flowers, sticks, and rocks. Then we put the flowers in the vines and put the rocks around the base of it like a spiral. Then we put the pinecones in cracks in the tree.
Next we got eight pieces of bamboo and put them in a semicircle around the back. I had the idea of putting a tiny piece of bamboo on front with grass around it. Then my mom added a semicircle of leaves around the semicircle of bamboo.
The tree we used was a birch tree.
I also made my own thing in the fence and I did it by weaving grass into the fence and I added some acorns to it. by Nate

At Art we were out in nature making art out of nature. The type of art was abstract. I helped out by making side decorations and creating ideas for what we could do. by Alex

Today we did art with Alea, my favorite part was finding colorful things. I liked it because of all the colorful flowers, leaves, pine cones, bark chips, sticks, baby apples, vines, and bamboo.
We used a birch tree to use to wrap around vines. by Kohl

Today we went into the Lewis Garden to make Land Art with Nate’s mom Alea, Aubrey’s mom Serena, and Mason’s mom Jen.

First we started brainstorming. Then we figured out that we were going to use the tree that was in the middle of the space we were using and we took weeds/vines and put them around the tree. by Stella

Today we did Land Art in the garden. Land Art is when you use only nature to make a work of art. Alea Bone (fellow classmate Nate’s mom) helped us. She told us about Andy Goldsworthy, who is famous for his Land Art. We weaved and wrapped a birch tree with vines.
About everyone pitched in. We used things that you would never think would be beautiful. We used things like leaves, pine cones, rocks, sticks/twigs, and Morning Glory weeds. We weaved Morning Glory weeds on the tree until it looked like a bush. by Tanner

Today we made land art. We made a ring out of plants on a birch tree. Land art is a type of art created by finding materials on the ground and putting them together. I didn’t come up with any ideas but I helped a lot. First we wrapped a bunch of weeds around the birch tree then we put color into the weeds with flowers. Then Tre started putting leaves on the top of the weeds and everybody else started doing the same thing. We also added some flowers. by Mason

Today we did land art with Alea we used rocks, vines, weeds, petals and flowers. We weaved the vines around a birch tree. We stuck bamboo in the ground behind it. We put flower petals in the vines for color. We put rocks and pine cones on the ground under the vines. Then we put pine cones into the bark of the tree.
I had a lot of fun. I went into the garden to get suff that we could use.  A lot! I love doing Art with Alea. Thank you, Alea. by Payton

Today Alea did an art project with us outside based on Andy Goldsworthy. First we decided what we were going to do, so we started to weave around a birch tree with vines. After we weaved about a foot across the tree, then some other kids and I went to look for textured things in the garden. I was picking up a few pine cones when I saw Aubrey behind me with a huge branch with leaves dangling from it.
“Did that come from the ground?” I asked.
“Of course.” Aubrey said and started walking back to the tree.
After we got back to the tree people were putting flowers in the weaving on the tree. Then I saw Tre sicking pine cones in the cracks in the tree so I joined in. Soon the bottom of the trunk was covered in pine cones. We were done with things on the tree, so we cut the bamboo in pieces and set them behind the tree in a half circle way.
In the end it was a weaving of vines on a birch tree with flowers in it and a leaf crown with rocks at the bottom and bamboo around it. It was really fun. by Zoe

Today, May 31, 2013 we did a sculpture beginning with a tree. Then we took some weeds and vines and we wrapped them around the tree tightly. After that we took some leaves that had fallen on the ground and we put them on top of the weeds and vines. So it looked like a bracelet on the trunk of the tree.
Then we went back in the garden to grab things that were colorful. People got flower petals, and pine cones and a lot of other stuff. Sense there were some pine cones left over we put  them in the cracks of the bark. Then we put flowers, petals, leaves, baby apples, and we stuck all of that on our sculpture.
We were not even close to done! On the bottom of the tree a lot of people did a pattern of rocks and pine cones. This is how the pattern went: rock, pine cone, rock and so on. Mr. Colvin brought some bamboo and he cut it for the back of the tree like a circle except at least a half of a circle. And Alea added leaves around so it is now a full circle. by Mariah

Today Alea came into our Room 24 classroom.
Alea did an art lesson about Andy Goldsworthy. We started with a blank birch tree that was just blank blank blank. The class started with vines and after vines Elliot and Tanner and I started putting brown leaves on the top of the ring.
Mr. Colvin planned it on the right day it was morning glory. it was a really really good day after all! by Tre

Today we did abstract art. We did our art on a tree with pine cones, grass, bamboo, weeds, branches, moss, and petals. by Tyler

Today we did land art with Alea. Leah, Makena, Nate and I went to go get colorful supplies like leaves, grass, bark chips, rocks, flowers, petals, weeds and sticks. When we came back with all of that stuff, everybody was making something, or should I put it this way: everybody was making something to put on the tree.
First we got these vine weed things. Then we wrapped it. It looked like a bird’s nest. It was weird looking. Then we decorated it with leaves and rocks, acorns, a lot of things.
Tre was yelling we need more rocks, so I asked Alea if I could get some. She said yes. I took the wagon to go get some rocks. by Olivia

Today we got to do art with Alea. As soon I got out there, I started  to pick up some flowers. After picking up flowers we started putting morning glory around the tree. The next thing we wanted was to add some color to the tree. Some of our class picked yellow, red, pink, blue, and green flowers. We stuck them in the morning glory. After putting in the flowers, we started putting pine cones around  the tree. Mr. Colvin brought some bamboo and we decided to put it around the tree in a semicircle. Nate’s mom added leaves on the ground. I had a fun time. by Nora

Today we made something really cool out of nature. Alea came in and showed us some pictures of Andy Goldsworthy’s art. He makes things out of nature around him.
We wrapped some vines and leaves around a tree. We also put rocks around it.  Then we put some bamboo behind it. We had to gather rocks, pine cones, acorns, and leaves.
Then we put pine cones on the tree. It was real fun! We found a lot of things we could’ve used but we didn’t. Some people found sticks, but we didn’t use them. After that Mr. Colvin sent some people to the garden to find some things to use.
I saw a slug that was huge! After we were done, Mr. Colvin took a picture of the class with our work of art. I hope I can do something like that on my own. by Rylan

This morning we went into the garden so that we could all make a sculpture out of nature. At first everybody was just walking around picking up sticks and not knowing what to do. But after about twenty minutes we actually had something!!
So we started to wrap vines that we found around the tree. Then Mr. Colvin started letting small groups go to the garden to gather supplies for the tree. Then after awhile we started to decorate the tree with flowers and acorns. I had the idea of putting pine cones in the holes on the tree. And at the top we made leaves go all around the tree. by Elliot

Today we did art with Alea. We did land art. We made a ring around a tree. We used vines, weeds, flowers, pine cones, rocks and bamboo. by Hayden

Today we went to the garden with Alea. We gathered leaves, pine cones, vines, weeds, rocks, flowers, and sticks and Mr. Colvin brought four pieces of  bamboo. We took the the stuff and made a ring around the tree with the vines and stuck the leaves in the ring and took the pine cones and rocks and made a ring around the bottom of the the tree going rock, pine cone, rock, pine cone. We cut the bamboo into eight pieces and stuck into the ground as a border. by Henry

What I liked about the nature art was my art.  I did not do the big art project, but I did like mine. Kohl helped me make it and I liked Noah’s deer. I helped him make it. Mine was a bird nest. It did not look like anything. There was a giant slug and it was very slow. In about an hour it moved a foot. I thought the project was awsome. by Austin

Today we did land art with Nate’s mom Alea. I got to hug a tree. We wrapped weeds and stuff around a birch tree. I didn’t really help with that, but I did make a deer in a fence with sticks, branches, acorn shells, and pine cones. Austin helped me protect the deer. It was a little bit fun. All in all it was pretty beautiful. by Noah

Today our class did land art with Alea. We were making the art with nature, but the art we were making wasn’t representational art, it was abstract art, and we did a lot of weaving with morning glory and other plants.
For the base of the tree we put pine cones and rocks at the base, and for the center of the trunk we weaved plants around it, and then we put flowers and petals around and in the weaved plants. Then we put pine cones of all sizes into the divots in the tree. After that we put bamboo in a half circle stuck in the ground behind the tree then we talked about our work and then took a picture of our work and we were all in it.
I even made my own little piece of art myself with stuff that I found on the ground, I also helped by going into the garden to find petals and leaves.
I felt that the project itself was good and it helped people work with each other and it was also really fun and that’s what I felt about one of the coolest projects I have ever done. by Joey

Today Nate’s mom Alea told us that we were going to go into the garden and make something called Land Art. Land Art is a kind of art where you don’t use paint, glue, or string, but you use what’s around you. Sticks, pine cones, even grass.
Before we went into the garden, we learned a little bit about a famous artist named Andy Goldsworthy. Andy Goldsworthy made Land Art (you should just see some of his art, it’s amazing!)
Alea took us into the garden. We all looked around for a base for our sculpture. In no time at all we found the perfect base, a winter birch tree.
Alea asked Nate, Kohl, Olivia, Leah, and I to go into the garden to look for colorful flowers and leaves. We soon came back with a whole wagon full of flowers, leaves, pine cones, pine needles, ferns, berries, rocks, and figs that had fallen off of our fig tree. Alea also sent another group out to look for moss and grass.
When we came back, Alea was stringing vines around the trunk of the birch tree. She asked my group to go look for a plant called Morning Glory which probably sounds like a beautiful plant but it is actually a weed. Leah and I took our own path and came back with a whole pile of Morning Glory.
After we had strung all of the Morning Glory around the birch tree, it was time to decorate it with flowers and leaves.
After we were all done, it was time to add the bamboo. We cut the bamboo in half and made a half circle around the birch tree.
After we were all done, we stood back to admire our work. That was the funnest art project I ever made. by Makena

About Mr. Colvin

I'm a retired elementary teacher (classroom and music) who taught at Lewis and Woodmere elementary schools in SE Portland. I like to teach, play guitar, take photos, and ride my bike.
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