02-09-11 Henry Middle’s Art Class - Recycling at Its Best
Henry Middle’s Art Class
Recycling at Its Best
Is there any hesitation or doubt, if only for a moment, when someone explains that Henry County Middle School’s Art teacher, Melissa Wood, and her diligent and gifted art students are actually creating beautiful works of art totally out of discarded tin cans?
Ms. Wood took a chance, or so it seemed, and applied for a grant from RecycleBank, a program that rewards recycling, for more than $2600. This particular grant was to be based totally on artistic and creative uses of recyclables. “I really could use that money to buy art supplies for my classroom,” said Ms. Wood. “What I buy is out of my own pocket.” When RecycleBank sent out the grant checks, one local school was a recipient, Henry County Middle School. Art supplies for Ms. Wood’s classroom are, for awhile at least, compliments of RecycleBank.
One must wonder how even a very resourceful and creative Art teacher with a class of enthusiastic Art students can take cast-a-ways and turn them into things of beauty. It only takes one trip to HCMS to find out exactly how that can be done. There in the Art Department sitting on a countertop propped against storage cabinets is the art creation that will answer every question that could be asked about “tin art.”
The subject picture from which the unbelievable 4’ x 4’ framed tin masterpiece was taken is of a Mexican villa featuring a man seated in a garden playing his guitar while a lady, quietly reposed and propped on one arm, listens to the sweet sounds of a Spanish flavored melody coming from the skillfully strummed guitar.
In the background of both the small picture and the much larger tin copy can be seen the decorative curls of the iron fence, and behind that, bursts of yellow defining the villa towers encompassed only by a mingled light and dark blue sky. Everything on the reproduction is made from different colored tin can pieces cut into multiple shapes to fit every curve, angle and corner. “That little picture we used for this project had a number of variations of the color yellow in it,” said Ms. Wood. “We found enough brands of soft drinks packaged in different colors of yellow tin cans to accommodate our needs. I just told the kids to drink those when they wanted a soda and save the cans.”
Ms. Wood’s explained that her students are very excited about what they have been able to accomplish with the recycled tin cans. They are currently working on a well-known Native American symbol, the hawk. HCMS teams are called the Hawks, but it was quickly pointed out that just because they were the Hawks had absolutely no influence on their choice of this particular symbol as a class project.
The whole idea of recycle art started at last year’s city-sponsored summer camp with this same Art teacher. Ms. Wood and several fellow teachers from HCMS worked in that summer camp which just happens to be held at their school gym? During camp, youngsters attending worked on art creations made from recycled 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles as one activity. A variety of different flowers were created with the largest abstract going on a wall in the school’s library.
“This being Black History month, I would really like to do a tin picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Ms. Wood stated. “We have one problem, not one can soft drink manufacturer uses brown tin cans for any canned drinks in the U. S. “I had to contact Coca Cola to see if they had any international drink product that could provide me with different colors of brown tin. We may not be able to do this project. We’ll see.”
Ms. Woods also showed some pieces that will become designer tin clocks based on various class subject designs. “Each classroom will get one of these clocks,” said this extremely innovative artist/teacher. “However, if they want to get one of the clocks themselves, they will have to buy it,” she added.
City Council member and fellow HCMS teacher, Gail Notti, is one of the proudest members of the faculty when it comes to this unusual, yet unique, art form. “I’m proud that the efforts of the county have begun to show how valuable investing in our youth is,” said Council member Notti. “There is a sense of personal identity, pride and community shown by all associated with these art projects. This effort should go a long way in developing future recyclers which will, hopefully, reverse some of the misuse of our resources.”
Ms. Wood has envisioned an annual Recycle Art Exhibition to display the many creations that could be completed and made available on a yearly basis. She is excited that her students are not only learning different art forms but are also getting an education in different cultures, various architectural designs, the influence of Mexican and Native American heritages, as well as disciplinary lessons. Who knows, one ingenious idea by one very talented teacher, which has moved from summer camp to classroom, may just end up fostering a way of life for her students.
Many of the creative arts teachers, such as Art and Music, are being laid off and classes cut due to budgetary constraints. Those that remain in the classroom actually have to dig deep into their own pockets for many classroom supplies because of these very constraints. One local art teach still found a way to overcome these circumstances even though she, like all teachers, long for the return of a sound, thriving economy able to provide all that they, as teachers, need to successfully accomplish their objectives in the classroom.
Shown working on the Native American tin hawk project in
Ms. Wood’s HCMS classroom are: (L-R) Jordan McClain, Derius Thomas,
Devon Thomas, Aquil Snell, Elizabeth Duncan, Broq James,
teacher Melissa Wood, Kayla Johnson and Kira Ogwal.
This Mexican scene is the first tin picture completed by
Melissa Wood’s Art class at Henry County Middle School.
HCMS Art teacher Melissa Wood holds the small picture that
served as the model for the 4’ x 4’ tin picture behind her.