First residency- Artist in the Schools- Underwood Elementary!

Backyard Birds


Keith and I completed our first Artist in the Schools project. The program is run by United Arts Council, and provides funding for artists to do projects related to the curriculum the students are learning. We created the backyard birds project to help students learn to identify common local birds. We worked with students in the public art elective and the birding elective at Underwood elementary. 

We started by showing the students things to look for when identifying birds like size, wing shape, flight pattern and behavior. Then each kid drew an image of a bird out of a bag- there were 35 different images of local species- and that was the bird they would create for the project. We used birds such as the Cardinal, Blue Jay, Blue  Bird, Slate Junco, Titmouse, Chickadee, and many other common birds. 

We first drew our birds in our sketchbooks to get an idea of their body shapes and typical postures. Then we used newspaper and tape to sculpt the bird bodies. We covered the bodies with plaster- then painted the colors on the birds. 

We decided to use real tree branches for the birds to perch on. Keith and I built an 8 x 8' structure to hold the branches and birds. This is an exterior piece and will hang in the courtyard at Underwood. There will be a guidebook labeling the birds to help students learn to identify birds.

We had a lot of fun working on this project and hope to do it again at another school!