This was the story idea I pitched for print, so it was cool that I got to write it. I really liked the topic and I liked the meaning the art 3 students had to put behind their work. The research that went into Naomi’s was really cool too.
From candy trees to thrones made out of a television, teacher Jauan Brooks has been assigning her Art 3 students a five foot “super sketch” for the past 15 years. The artists can make their assignment into anything they want, as long as it is five feet in length or width and convey some kind of message. Junior Naomi Gelberg-Hagmier worked on canvas, creating a painting of the United States borders holding a whited-out collage of symbols and drawings, representing 14 different Native American tribes across the country. The ideas behind the drawings took hours of research, and the drawings themselves symbolize different aspects of the tribe’s culture and mythology, from canoes to totem poles to fruits.
“The Cherokee have this story called ‘The Origin of the Strawberries’. Woman got mad at man, man was like, ‘Hey, great spirit, help me out,’. So he laid a bunch of fruits in her path, and none of them worked except for the strawberry, so I just did this fruity kind of thing [for the Cherokee],” Gelberg-Hagmier said.
Smack-dab in the middle of the artwork, black tubing rigidly cuts through the U.S, representing the Keystone Pipeline, with snaking tendrils twisting around it.
“[The pipeline] is getting really, really close to Indian reservations and technically, it’s not on their land, but [the planners] haven’t done any environmental impact tests or things like that,” Gelberg-Hagmier said. “And it’s a pipeline for oil, and not gas, and if a gas pipeline breaks, it’s not as bad, but oil would seep. We’ve already taken so much of their land, and [now] we’re potentially destroying it.”
Gelberg-Hagmier feels like we as a country claim to preserve and appreciate the culture, yet we do the exact opposite.
“[As] settlers, we’ve slaughtered tons of [Native Americans]. Some of that was by diseases and that wasn’t a purposeful killing, but we know there’s so much that’s been wiped out on the east coast, like there are tribes that have just disappeared because of that, and I feel like we say we’re trying to protect their culture, but we’re not…In my AP U.S. History class, we started off the year briefly talking about American Indians, and I just think it was really odd that we don’t talk about them anymore,” Gelberg-Hagmier said. “I guess, oh, ‘technically it wasn’t America yet, so like oh, it’s not part of our history’, but I feel like it’s such a sad thing that we don’t talk about it.”
Because of the size, Gelberg-Hagmier had issues at first with drawing the map.
“I did the outline of America…then I did all my research, and then I was like, ‘oh dear, I have to actually do it’,” Gelberg-Hagmier said. “And I talked to Ms. Brooks like, ‘Ms. Brooks, I’m struggling,’ so she was like why don’t you break them down into smaller sections, so that’s what I did…I drew each section of the giant map in pencil, and then took sheets of paper and put them over, and then outlined where it was and labeled what tribe it was…I just did each one of those individually, and I would paste it on with a gel medium to keep it in place.”
Despite the difficulty, all of the Art 3 students had fun with the project and plan to show off more super sketches in the future.
“I was really surprised that they said they really enjoyed it, even though it was intimidating and overwhelming for them, they really enjoyed the process,” Brooks said. “So I’ll continue to do it.”
Going another route, Junior Rose Copeland chose to do a sculpture, bringing light to the extinction of bees for her project.
“[My piece] is a wire honeycomb [sculpture] that has copper flowers, roses and aluminum leaves on it…It just basically represents the inevitable disappearance of bees, and how they’re endangered, and basically how flowers need bees, and bees are dying, and so nature is dying, but nature’s still going to happen, even if the bees die,” Copeland said. Being so passionate about this topic, she is hoping her artwork makes individuals think.
“I guess [I want people to] take action. I mean, bees are actually going extinct now, so there’s not a whole lot we can do, but just to make preserves, just to think about our actions and what it does to nature,” Copeland said.
Copeland spent around 12 hours on this project, making mostly everything by hand, including her time-consuming copper roses. She is pleased with herself and her product, especially considering the challenge of the assignment.
“It was really intimidating because, usually, I work on a really small scale of like watercolor and pencil, so I’ve never really done wire sculptures and big stuff, but that was the project, so I just kind of took it on….I’m pretty proud of [my work],” Copeland said.