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Classroom Happenings: Unique Expressions

The Steward School
Exhibit combines art and entrepreneurship
Steward students learn from a very young age the joy of cross-disciplinary learning. Spartans discover that subjects can overlap and intertwine, often with connections that reach far beyond the traditional classroom. 

Upper Schoolers in Visual Art Teacher Kristin Snellings’ class recently experienced this when they created unusual art pieces: life-sized clay shoes, some of which are realistic, while others are more whimsical. The project was done in conjunction with an initiative that students in Steward’s Entrepreneurship Studies Program created for local business Saxon Shoes. Last spring, under the guidance of Melissa Freed, Entrepreneurship students pitched an art-gallery idea to the owners of Saxon Shoes in an effort to attract more teenage shoppers. 

April 15-30 Exhibit at Saxon Shoes 
The pitch was successful, and from April 15-30, Saxon Shoes will feature a shoe-art gallery from Ms. Snellings’ students and from other schools in the community. An opening reception (with refreshments) will take place on April 19 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the store, which is located at Short Pump Town Center (11800 West Broad Street, Richmond, Va.). The gallery is also a contest; visitors to the store who make a purchase can vote for their favorite piece of art (and receive a Saxon coupon), and the winning artist will receive a gift card. 

Morgan Smartt ’25 created a shoe depicting a monster with a big eye and two tentacles for laces. 

“I love drawing and creating monsters and characters, so this was a great opportunity for me,” said Morgan. “My favorite part of the process was sculpting. Working with clay was more fun than I thought it would be. The most difficult part was creating the laces … they broke easily when I put them in the kiln. Although they broke a few times, I'm happy with how my shoe looked in the end!”

For Caitlin Calkins ’24, inspiration came when she looked down at her feet.

“I made a Converse shoe, since I was wearing Converse shoes when we made our designs,” she said. “I painted it like a blue sky, with purple and pink wings, like a butterfly flying up in the clouds.” Working in clay was a new experience for Caitlin. “I usually stick to drawing and painting, but it was really fun to create a 3D piece of art. I love seeing the results of these kinds of projects, where I can create something I never would have made on my own.”

Bringing Designs to Life 
Ms. Snellings said, “I loved seeing my students’ unique personalities and styles come through in their designs. I learned that many are passionate about their footwear and were eager to bring their designs to life. For some, this was the first time they had worked with clay. This was not an easy project, but the students all rose to the challenge and exceeded my expectations.” 


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