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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment May 26, 2018

4/24/2018 6:40:00 PM
Sisters goes 'From Alpine to Desert'
Sisters art students at work on “Alpine to Desert.” photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Sisters art students at work on “Alpine to Desert.” photo provided

By Katy Yoder

Starting next weekend, there's going to be all kinds of new wildlife in Sisters. No need to protect your flowers and shrubs, these creatures won't eat a thing. In fact, once they find their way to the Sisters Elementary School fence, they won't move a muscle. To make them feel at home, they'll be joined by rocks, logs and meadowscapes all found from alpine to desert.

Former Sisters student and art teacher Laura Campbell has been working non-stop on the continuation of The River Celebration, a fenceline installation that incorporates science and art to teach students about the environment we share with our animal neighbors.

The new project, called "Alpine to Desert," is a continuation of the "fish fence" at the elementary school.

"We are starting at the mountains on the fence and heading toward Bend to complete that section of fence," said Campbell.

The completed project will include the desert plains of eastern Oregon to the coast. "In this section, we are focusing on specific details of central to eastern Oregon and alpine mountains to the desert."

There will be aspects of the ecosystem and important parts of specific regions as well as transitional areas. "This section involves sense of place since we are looking at the Sisters area specifically. Students will learn about the mountains, the high desert and what types of plants and animals live near and around our home town," said Campbell.

For two weeks, Campbell worked with Judy Fuentes' middle school art classes. Students painted large wooden cut-outs of all kinds of alpine to desert inhabitants from sparrows, swallows, redtail hawks, woodpeckers, eagles, cougars, bobcats, wolves and coyotes.

Campbell's time working with the students was rewarding and affirming. She noticed the difference in how much the students knew about painting. Having art teachers in the schools and access to the arts for all students has all kinds of positive effects.

"They knew how to create an animal's eye and make it look alive," she said.

The deeper understanding of perspective, anatomy, use of light and shading were all evident in the final products.

Campbell's goal of involving all three schools as well as the community with the latest project was a success. Sisters Folk Festival Creative Director Brad Tisdel couldn't be more pleased with Campbell's results.

"The project has engaged every student K-5, many 6th-graders, 9th-graders, high school, Interdisciplinary Environmental Expedition (IEE) kids and the wood shop," he said. "Hoyt's Hardware provided materials at cost, high school student Austin Gulick helped cut things in the wood shop, and Kerry Bott helped with calibrating the computer numerical control (CNC) machine."

Campbell also cut out pieces on the CNC machine.

Along with Alpine to Desert animals and landscape pieces, 20 birds were cut out for the My Own Two Hands Common Canvas project. The birds were painted by local artists and donated for a silent auction that takes place Friday, May 11 at Sisters Art Works.

"Some of the shapes will be on the fence," said Campbell.

Buyers at the silent auction can donate their purchase back to the fence project, as long weatherproof paints were used.

SFF Managing Director Ann Richardson will be handling the silent auction on Friday.

"The painted birds will be on display and available for bidding in the first-floor gallery space at Sisters Art Works," said Richardson.

The auction will close at 6 p.m. the night of the art stroll.

Artists who have donated to Common Canvas include Sisters Folk Festival board member Terri Bucholz and world-renowned glass artist Susie Zeitner. Other artists include Laura Fouts, Maren Burke and Ann Richardson.

"We're excited to have up to five birds painted by local students. Many have benefited from the support provided by Sisters Folk Festival for visual arts in the schools," said Richardson.

Tisdel is grateful for the collaborations that have made the fence project possible.

"The idea was conceived by Becky Stoughton (SES principal), Laura and myself as a way for Sisters Elementary School students to take part in the River Celebration," he said.

There's great pride for the budding artists and scientists as they look at the fence alive with animals and landscapes they get to host on the elementary school's fence.

Tisdel has known Campbell since she was a child growing up and learning in the Sisters public schools.

"Hiring Laura to be the teaching artist that implements and executes her vision is tremendously meaningful. Her contribution - combined with being somebody who came through the Sisters schools' program - makes the project a true community effort and positive outcome of the hardworking educators who make it all possible," Tisdel said.

The latest installation will be hung in time for the My Own Two Hands celebration, May 11-12.

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