The art department at Hotchkiss High School won as the top high school at the ECO Art Exhibition at the Red Brick Center for the Arts in Aspen in early April. Then in May, the school's art students painted their bulldog mascot on the Hotchkiss public works building.
Both bulldogs, one made of chicken wire and the other airbrushed, have garnered accolades.
Art teacher Jamie Roeber could not be prouder of her talented students.
The Hotchkiss public works department asked Roeber if her class would paint a new bulldog mascot on their building. She presented the idea to her class who were excited about it. Sophomore Wesley Hardin created the design which was projected on the building, sketched in pencil and then airbrushed the following day. The only hitch was getting the weather to cooperate.
Roeber paid for the project from an Arch Coal Innovative Teaching Grant. She wanted to help her students "develop more pride in their community while simultaneously improving their artistic abilities and increasing team building." The grant provided for airbrushing kits, paint and other supplies.
Roeber didn't want to just help her students, she also wanted to help the community.
"I drove through here eight years ago on my way to a different teaching job, saw Hotchkiss and [thought], 'Wow. They need some serious artwork done.' The public works department came to us asking us to paint the building and do the bulldog for them. They had seen the artwork in the gym, and wanted something new. It was funny how things came full circle now that I am teaching here and helping the community," Roeber said.
Four different businesses have contacted the art department at Hotchkiss about painting projects.
Roeber is known for her chicken wire sculptures. For a class project, her students wanted to create a new mascot for the school. The plans were to make it with chicken wire and place it on the school's roof. Rufus, the mascot, would officially greet everyone who visited the school.
The five students, sophomores Brendon Beck, Alex Smith and Wesley Hardin and freshmen Jaden Simpson and James LeValley worked on the bulldog off and on with the goal to complete Rufus by the end of the school year.
But then Roeber came in with a flyer about an Aspen Eco Art Exhibition. The team of sculptors became excited about completing Rufus and entering the exhibit.
"That was our big motivation right there," Brendon Beck said.
The April 1 deadline meant they worked before and after school and sometimes the entire day. James LeValley said it took 15 days to complete once they knew of the deadline.
Rufus, a 6-foot by 7-1/2-foot sculpture, was transported to Aspen on a trailer and arrived unscathed.
Forty schools from Colorado participated in the show. All artwork had to be made from recycled or reused material. A total of $5,000 would be distributed to the winning school art departments.
The opening reception in Aspen was on April 11. The sculptors said their first place win was unexpected.
The students were responsible for the Hotchkiss High School art department winning $600. Roeber says it is fitting to have her art students help decide how the money will be used in the department.
Roeber says she taught her students the techniques and they took over. "It was awesome."
Wesley Hardin added, "It definitely was a new experience and something we had to get used to. We had never done it before and weren't really sure what we were doing, but we figured it out."
The sculptors researched photographs of bulldogs on the Internet and studied little sculptures. But Rufus is the creation of the students' own imaginations since they didn't have something exact to build from.
Hardin said they started with the bulldog's cheeks and nose because they were what defined the pieces of his face. "It's easier to build something when you can see it a little bit. That really helped us see how it would come together."
The students never sought all the attention and accolades they have received for their sculpture. They were recently given certificates of achievement from the Delta County school board.
"This started as a group project for their class. And they put Hotchkiss on the map for being superior in art," Roeber said.blog comments powered by Disqus