Sculpture, colors and kids mix for magical experience

Rehoboth students learn to think like Chihuly
December 19, 2013

Bright colors fill Kellyann Ranieri's art class these days.

Globes, streamers and an assortment of faux sea creatures have taken up residence in the nooks and crannies of her Rehoboth Elementary art room.

The colors and shapes are reminiscent of contemporary artist Dale Chihuly who shapes glass into spheres, towers, sealife, plants and depictions of other organic life.

Attending one of Chihuly's shows in Nashville, Ranieri said she watched children fascinated by the show, and she couldn't wait to share it with her students.

Ranieri said her classes started learning about Chihuly in mid-October, when she showed videos of his art exhibits across the country to help students understand how massive and colorful his displays are.

“I thought these kids would love it,” she said.

Eleven-year-old Katie Knarr, for one, did.

“It's cool how he does glass,” the fifth-grade student said. “I like the colors and the shapes – towers and spheres.”

Katie and her classmates used pieces of clear overhead transparency paper to make the original sphere. They wrapped pieces around a balloon to shape the sphere, popping and removing the balloon after its shape was set. Students then used a variety of paints to add color.

Using a drip type of paint, Emily Monigle, 10, put the finishing touches on her globe.

“I've always liked yellow and pink together because they pop,” she said.

Emily said she would probably hang up her globe in her room or place it on her dresser when it's finished.

Her classmate, Griffin Joseph, 10, said he wants to put a light inside his globe and hang it from the ceiling.

While fifth-graders worked on perfecting globes, other students created different types of Chihuly-inpsired artwork.

Kindergartners used coffee filters, starch and water colors to create macchias – bowl-like structures. First- and second-graders explored with paint to create abstract artwork; third-graders used transparency film to mimic Chihuly sculpture; and fourth-graders tried their hands at free-form sculpture.

Together, Ranieri said, she and her students decided what kinds of materials would work best and what color combinations are most like Chihulhy's.

On the night of a recent school art show, Ranieri said she put battery-operated candles in the globes and placed them outside for people to see as they entered the building.

The pièce de résistance possibly was a 6-by-8-foot creation, made with the help of a parent who put together a supporting armature.

“It's like a giant Chihuly sculpture,” Ranieri said.

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