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Classroom Happenings: Inspired by Nature

The Steward School
Art installations with a natural twist
If you recently strolled through the wooded nature-walk area behind the Bryan Innovation Lab, you may have noticed something unusual underfoot. Amid the crunchy fall leaves and fallen acorns were beautiful artistic expressions. Eighth graders in Lower School/Middle School Visual Arts Teacher Abby Klein’s class created forest-floor art installations using natural objects they gathered outside the Bryan Lab — leaves, flowers, mud, pinecones, twigs, stones, and grasses. 

Mrs. Klein’s students had previously viewed images of British artist Andy Goldsworthy’s sculptures and installations, all of which are created entirely out of items found in nature and are often circular or spiral-shaped. Mrs. Klein then tasked her students to make their own Goldsworthy-inspired pieces. In collaboration with Bryan Innovation Lab Program Specialist Megan Young, the nature walk was determined to be the perfect canvas. 

“The students worked hard to create unique art and leave it for anyone to find,” said Mrs. Klein. “They learned that art can be simple, and art can be absolutely anywhere. They also had to accept that what they created could disappear at any time.” 

This artistic endeavor is one example of Steward’s innovative curriculum, which encourages creativity and provides outside-the-classroom experiences. Mrs. Klein hopes to do a similar art installation project with Lower School students in the future. 

“The eighth-grade class completely embraced this challenge,” she said. “When we met at the Bryan Lab early that morning, it was cold and dewy, and they were tired. Ten minutes later they were running around gathering materials, working in teams, and totally engaged!  I was amazed at their energy and enthusiasm.” 

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