Fourteen artists visited the Tremont Consolidated School last week to conduct workshops in the visual and performing arts. Bird carving was just one of the many offerings. PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

Students immerse themselves in arts week

Students at the Tremont Consolidated School let loose their creative sides last week during the school’s annual arts week.

The students worked with 14 visiting artists, learning firsthand the process and skills needed to express themselves in a variety of visual and performing arts.

This year, the school expanded the schedule of activities, said art teacher Chandra Cousins-Raymond. In previous years, only four artists were invited, and each grade had only one workshop. Last week, all students, kindergarten through eighth grade, participated in four afternoons of workshops which ended Friday.

“It was a lot to organize,” Cousins-Raymond said, adding that the results were well worth the effort.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I had a lot of positive feedback.”

Bringing in artists to talk about their work and to guide students in their own creative endeavors has benefits that go beyond the four days of activities, Cousins-Raymond said. The experience instills an awareness of art in the students that “makes it more accessible,” she said.

“Art permeates our culture and media,” she explained. “Art is in our world.”

Papier-mâché sculptures PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

Papier-mâché sculptures

Another change in the program this year was to split the students into multi-age groups for the workshops. The mix encouraged peer relationship building, Cousins-Raymond said.

The four afternoons were packed with activities, with one workshop or another taking place in almost every room of the school. On Friday, Mike Duffy’s students were finishing off their papier-mâché and clay sculptures, Stephanie McGary of the Robinson Ballet was in the gym teaching modern dance, the potters in Kreg McCune’s workshop were busy putting feet on their bowls, and Steve Valleau, the carver-in-residence at the Wendell Gilley Museum, was eyeing a number of oddly colored carved wooden birds. In other workshops, students painted murals, learned improvisational and other acting skills, recorded a rap song and made marionettes from found objects.

Arts week would not have been possible without the assistance of the entire school staff, Cousins-Raymond noted.

“They really stepped in,” she said.

Some staff members went so far as to lead their own workshops. Principal Pam Bush worked with younger students to make beaded necklaces; French teacher Katrina Linscott used the traditional Mardi Gras celebration as the basis for her mask-making workshop. Cooks Jennie Caeti and Anne Lee presented a class in the culinary arts.

Cousins-Raymond said she is already looking forward to next February.

“We were ironing out all the kinks this year,” she said. Tops on her to-do list is to have a show at the end of the week where the students’ artwork is on display in one place.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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