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Every year, the fourth grade class at Kensington Intermediate School works cooperatively on an art project. The project gives the students a chance to create an individual piece as well as a group piece. The group project is displayed at the District Art Show and then added to Kensington's permanent collection.
This year's Kensington fourth grade class is creating a piece of art based on the theme of unity. Their finished project will depict a coral reef. The artist working with them, Erin Delventhal, refers to a piece of coral on the table in the art room. "Corals are built by colorful tiny coral polyps. As the polyps secrete layers of calcium carbonate, they build the framework for the coral reef ecosystem" she explains. “Even though these coral polyps are small in size, together they are strong and very important to the health of the oceans. Just like the small decisions this generation can make to eliminate single use plastics to help preserve our oceans and lakes in a big way." Ms. Delventhal and art teacher Sarah Braddock worked with every student to help him or her create a part of an underwater world, to be collectively titled "Strength In Numbers." Also helping with the project is Laura Lazzaro, Kensington PTA President. The project is funded by the PTA.
Each student painted a sea anemone, seaweed, fish, or segment of coral. The kids are painting these on segments of paper that's upcycled (reused) from store signs. Pieced together, the paintings will create a coral reef.
To create their paintings, the students learned an artistic process known as "sgraffito." Sgraffito is a process in which a base color is topped with a contrasting color. Then, textures, lines, and patterns are drawn on the top layer to reveal the color underneath.
In addition, each child painted a sea creature onto a reclaimed wood block to take home. Ms. Delventhal created these individual "block canvases" with wood from a construction site, which she then covered with unused house paint. "Choosing upcycled wood, not canvas wrapped in individual plastic, keeps all that single-use plastic out of landfills and water systems," she points out. The artist used this example to help the kids come up with everyday examples of their own to reduce single-use plastics by making small decisions to help the environment. Like getting an ice cream cone at Mitchell's instead of a cup and single- use plastic spoon as an example or choose to use bar soap at home instead of liquid soap in a plastic bottle which will take over 400 years to decompose.
When the piece is complete, Ms. Delventhal will add her own creation to it: an octopus shelving books on a coral shelf. After it's shown at the District Spring Fine Arts Show, "Strength In Numbers" will be displayed, appropriately, in the school library.