Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Artmobile pulls into Sundance


October 31, 2019

When the Ann Simpson Artmobile pulls into the school parking lot, the students of Sundance can be sure something special will happen that day. The colorful van and its contents, sponsored by the University of Wyoming Museum of Art, travels around introducing the state’s youngest citizens to the joys of art appreciation.

Behind the wheel is Sarita Keller, whose role as Artmobile Educator is to curate the exhibition of artwork that the kids will be introduced to and prepare art-based learning projects for them to experience.

This year’s exhibition was titled “At Work and At Play” and was intended, says Keller, to spark conversation about the differences and similarities between the two.

“We were talking about how they are not mutually exclusive – you can have a job you enjoy, or you can be playful at work, or there could be something you play that you put time and commitment into,” she explains.

Each class is first given a chance to walk through the traveling exhibit and view the pieces of art, just as they would in a real gallery. Keller then engages the kids in conversation about the art and their interpretation of what they have seen.

The class spends an hour with Keller, first viewing and discussing the artwork and then beginning a project that will be finished later, in class. This varies according to grade level, but is always associated with the theme of the exhibition.

This year, for example, the seventh grade kids tried their hands at lino-cut print-making to create a book cover. The book itself contained each child’s thoughts about work and play.

“I had them think about something they might want to do in the future and then they had to write a poem called ‘Ode to Work’,” she says.

Among the poems the kids came up with were elegies to teaching, playing football professionally and owning a shop. “There were ones about engineers, inventors, farmers and other stuff,” she smiles.

A similar project was assigned to the second grade, she says.

“They wrote the poems and they are going to collage the covers with different things that have to do with the job and the poem will go inside the little book,” she says.

For this project, Keller asked them to think about the work they themselves do now, the work they see others doing, something they see themselves doing in the future or a skill they’ve put hard work into.

High school students were meanwhile given the chance to honor their ancestors through print-making.

How does Keller come up with so many ideas for projects that will open kids’ minds to the possibilities of art? Ironically, her answer is connected to the theme of this year’s exhibit.

“If you like what you’re doing, they just come,” she laughs as she prepares to welcome another group of curious minds into her classroom.


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