At Timberstone Junior High, a celebration is gearing up. Tables with student projects stand against walls near the entryway. The media center displays books for sharing and selling. Students are rehearsing to perform at a snow-rescheduled concert. And student art adorns the walls, greeting visitors as they enter through the main doors. It’s all part of the annual Spring Celebration of Creativity happening on the evening of March 9th.
Nestled in that impressive collection of student work hangs a series of photo collages celebrating prominent African Americans. Those collages are a twin effort on art teacher Jennifer Bucher’s part. First, they helped her guide her eighth grade students through an exploration of African American achievement. Second, they helped her introduce her students to digital photo editing through Pixlr, the web-based photo editing tool. While the first goal is crucial to building our students’ awareness of identity and diversity, it was that second one that engaged Lexi, one of Jennifer’s eighth graders. Lexi compiled a collage of imagery celebrating Dorothy Dandridge, the accomplished actress, singer, and dancer, and while compiling, manipulating, and editing that collage, Lexi found herself excited about art.
Like her fellow students, Lexi followed directions to find images of a prominent African American, import those images into Pixlr, play with them through sizing, bordering, overlaying, and adjustments, print them, and finally attach them to a paper background with foam foundations to “pop out” certain images in a 3-D effect. The result was an unassuming, yet dynamic collage that played with color and dimension. Lexi also composed a short biography of Dandridge to accompany the collage. Her presentation now finds itself on a wall to your right as you enter Timberstone.
When asked about her experiences with the project, Lexi explains that she has been playing with photo manipulation through simple apps on her phone. When she explored Pixlr, she encountered a range of more powerful tools, but they felt familiar to her because of her smartphone play experiences. That play merged into directed work through Pixlr and Jennifer’s direction. Lexi enjoyed the process and found herself expanding the boundaries of the project by adding “sticker” images from Pixlr’s library to dress up her imagery of Dandridge. One day, Lexi hopes to work in the field of artistic design, maybe as a make-up designer or art teacher, and her play/work with computer-aided visual design is adding depth to her student experiences that will eventually shape her life’s career.
Until then, Lexi and her fellow eighth graders have contributed to the creativity coloring Timberstone’s halls. Each student, teacher, administrator, and parent that enjoys tonight’s celebration will enjoy the gift of that work.
Interested in Pixlr? Check out this tutorial exploring some of the cool effects Lexi played with!