Artist in Residence Projects Begin!

Artist in Residence Projects Begin!
Posted on 01/17/2020
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Work to create a school-wide project highlighting the ILES wetland is underway with the Indian Lake Elementary School Artist In Residence.  
In the summer of 2019, ILES was awarded an $11,100 Artist In Residence Grant from the Ohio Department of Education to create a project inspired by the wetland on school property just behind the building. 
Melissa Terlizzi and ILES Art Teacher Terry Nelson are helping students learn how to use polymer clay to forge wetland flora and fauna.
Terlizzi is a polymer clay artist coming to ILES from Virginia. She explains that polymer clay is easy to work with for children because it blends well, is lightweight and requires no firing or glazing. 
The students first choose colors appropriate for what they are making, then they work the clay and roll the colors together to make layered "canes." Finally, they use a pasta machine to flatten the clay and then mold it into shapes.
Currently, the older grade levels are working on individual wetland creatures, such as turtles and fire flies. Younger grade levels are starting to make parts of the sky and plant life found in the wetlands behind the school. 
Terlizzi says, "The kids are all attentive and eager to learn...this is so much fun!" 
Nelson explains the entire project is a dream she has had for a long time.  
"I actually had written a similar grant for this project 5-6 years ago, but didn't get it.  I am just in love with polymer clay and how many ways artists can use it. And I'm excited to be able to involve every student."

Terlizzi and Nelson have carefully planned what students in each grade level will contribute. The overall project will consist of an alphabet wall, where each letter highlights animals and plants found in the nearby wetland environment. They have already created a sample letter "M" (as in Melissa) to use as inspiration.
Outside of art class, teachers are using the Artist in Residence wetland project as a springboard for further studies in the classroom. Lifecycle studies of butterflies and frogs are standard curriculum for elementary level science. The ILES COSI on Wheels program in December focused on ecology to accompany the project. In addition, the gifted class spent weeks researching which plants and animals should be included in the art installation and also came up with the idea of making it into a commemorative alphabet book for each ILES student. This spring, technology students will help with the layout of the book and add the text, written by students, digitally.
Terlizzi's contacts at Polyform Products donated half of the polymer clay to be used in the project. The Artist in Resident grant and other donations to the school will cover the rest of the project costs. 

Terlizzi will spend several days working with the students over the next semester. When complete, all the letters will be displayed in the school as a permanent installation. In addition, students will all be able to make their own polymer clay projects to take home. 
The finished project will be unveiled to the public this spring.