Arts News, May 24

Anne Armstrong, Visual Arts Teacher, Arts Coordinator
May 24, 2019

Students Create “Plastic Ocean,” An Art Installation with a Message

Seventh and eighth grade students in the fall arts elective, Public Art, worked together on Community Service Day to assemble their collaborative class sculpture and prepare it for installation in the Barn. When the class concluded at the end of October, the Barn was still under construction!

The Public Art class was designed and taught by a multi-disciplinary team of Anne Armstrong, art teacher; middle school science teacher Sandra Trentowsky; and a trio of researchers from Education Development Center (EDC), an organization focused on curriculum development and program design in Waltham. We were fortunate to also have Brianna Shaughnessey, a doctoral candidate in environmental biology at UMass-Boston, visit and share her research about the effects of plastics in oceans. The work of the class was focused on designing and creating a sculpture to be installed in the Barn. The design brief outlined the parameters of sculpture, including the theme (impact of plastic pollution in the oceans), overall structure (the piece must be made primarily from plastic, and must hang from the ceiling), and necessary elements (the piece must include an artists’ statement about the meaning and intended message of the piece).

Students worked in design teams to create three different proposals, and feedback from the jury committee (consisting of several adults in the BDS community and the EDC researchers) challenged the class to include elements from each design team’s proposal into the final sculpture. The class then revised their ideas to create a unified sculpture and divided into three build teams focusing on the different sculptural elements for the piece: jellyfish, birds, and a leatherback turtle. Their final sculpture has now been installed so make sure to stop by the Barn to check it out!

A big thank you to Bill Smith and the buildings and grounds crew for their help to install the piece.

By Anne Armstrong, visual arts teacher and arts coordinator |

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