“I’ve always loved art,” they echoed. Artists Michele and Wade met for the first time recently, coming together at St. Joseph’s Indian School to share their love of art with our students.
With help from the South Dakota Arts Council, Michele spent a week with St. Joseph’s third, fourth and fifth grade classes. Wade was invited to join her by Dave, St. Joseph’s art teacher. The pair teamed up to help students learn about printmaking, with extra focus on the creative process and collaboration.
“It was no mistake that we had two artists working with students at one time,” said Dave, St. Joseph’s art teacher. “We intentionally paired two people of different cultures, backgrounds and genders. This allowed the students to see how adults also have to navigate meeting new people and working together for a common goal — in this case a finished piece of art. I wanted students to see how Wade and Michele would have to communicate and compromise in order for both voices to come out in the final artwork. Students were also able to see their part in the collaboration and communication process.”
And, Dave points out, the learning is truly in the process.
“There’s so much value in what happens in the classroom during these residencies,” he said. “The tendency is to rate the success of a week like this by the end product. I love great artwork, but the making, the discovering and the connecting are all so important. If, at the end of the week, the piece didn’t work, the experience would still be invaluable. It’s just another lesson for our students — what do adult artists do when things don’t go as planned?”
The final piece came together brilliantly, however, with elements of quilting and printmaking.
“From a distance, one might think they are looking at a quilt,” said Dave. “Wade has explored quilting and that is evident in this piece. He also spent ten years as a framer in Boston, framing very high-end work for museums and private collections. His precision and attention to detail is present in this work.
Michele’s enthusiasm and technical skill is evident in every print the students created, and those pieces make up the whole. For printmakers, some of the magic lies in how there are infinite combinations of elements that can be honed to incredible precision or played within a continuous cycle of experimentation. Michele was able to introduce this special form of art in a way that didn’t intimidate the students — they were excited to jump in.”
Dave notes the finished piece is a very successful work of art on many levels.
“Upon first glance the colors seem to dance without reason, but with a little more time you can see the colors are arranged in a concentric pattern. There are a few elements literally raised from the surface, giving the piece real depth. The warm and cool colors also appear to move in space, but are really on the same plane.
The playful touch the students brought to the work with their prints is balanced by Wade’s sensibility and precision. The strengths of each artist, and what they brought out of our students, are apparent in the finished work.”
South Dakota Arts Council support is provided with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts.