Ceramics & Sculpture

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It took me a few years to feel comfortable creating real-world experiences for my fine art classes. Partly because sculpture is very “present” and often times large, and I had fears of it not looking so good… But I have overcome those fears by learning to work with guest artists who know their “stuff”. I have also learned to write grants to help offset the cost of large-scale sculpture. Even if there was no administrative support to create large-scale public works, I have found a variety of ways to help students connect to the real-world. One way is allowing them to participate in the all school fashion show, which was traditionally put on by the fashion class. Since we were using recycled materials and my sculpture students were also doing silk-screening, I decided it was a great way to have a real-world experience. We have worked in clay, created altered books, built box assemblages, poured plaster, constructed with wire, designed mobiles and stabiles, and created found object sculptures. We have had a variety of guest artists including a ceramist who gave a presentation helping to inspire family narrative pieces, a mobile sculptor who constructed a large-scale mobile for our atrium, and a metal sculptor who allowed students to weld in his studio. Touring the downtown public sculptures and interacting with them through altering its visual appearance (without disturbing the piece) was a really creative and beautiful experience for me and my students as well. Of course the large-scale public works are very exciting for everyone, but one a year is my suggestion!

Helen Devos Children’s Hospital

Collaborating on a commission for the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital my husband, Cameron Van Dyke and I designed a large-scale water feature that would show children interacting with life’s greatest source; water. As part of the commission we

Water Feature for Helen Devos Children’s Hospital

were to incorporate student’s work into the sculpture, and so we chose three area schools for this; NorthPointe Christian High

School, where I teach, and Grand Rapids Christian High School and an after-school program with the Grand Rapids Public Schools. Students were asked to consider the playful, whimsical quality of Dr. Seuss for their inspiration. Their designs, created in ceramic, had to fulfill specifications of size, color,texture and water flow.

Student-Designed 32 foot laser cut panel on the Beatitudes of Christ

Through the generosity of the Arts Council of Grand Rapids, Hascall Steel, Wyser Innovative Products, Cameron Van Dyke,LLC and Magnum Powder Coating  NorthPointe Christian High School sculpture students designed a 32 foot outdoor wall relief based on the Beatitudes of Christ found in Matthew 5. Students prepared their designs on RHINO and then during the summer panels were laser cut and powdercoated.


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