Friday, May 11th, 2007
By Shelley Grieshop
Coldwater students' artwork shines
COLDWATER - It is the mouths on the Mexican clay sun faces that make visitors smile as they enter the elementary art room.
Whether a big-lipped pucker or a sheepish grin, the facial expressions on the ceramic pieces reveal the true personality and creativity of the Coldwater artists who hand-molded the clay.
After initial instruction, the fourth-graders eagerly jumped into the latest project, says art teacher Terri Bey.
"Earlier this year we drew faces, self portraits and learned about correct facial proportions," says Bey, who is in her 21st year of teaching, including time at both St. Henry and Minster schools.
Bey focused her most recent art lesson on the work of nationally-known artist/sculptor/author George Carruth, who just happens to hail from Waterville, near Toledo. Since 1983, Carruth has successfully created and sold a wide variety of cast images in stone from original designs he carved from limestone and clay.
Carruth's "Garden Smiles" collection have the odd-facial expressions that are his trademark and appear in stone on various landscape and patio items.
"My sister lives in Waterville and so I've been to his studio," says Bey.
An outstanding art teacher in her own right, Bey says she took a one-day summer workshop at Carruth's studio and even purchased a video he produced to show her students how the unique creations are born.
"The students saw the video and saw actual examples of his work," she says. "I wanted the students to carry over what they learned earlier drawing faces, to the three-dimensional version in clay."
Using Carruth's methods also fulfills a state-mandated standard to incorporate the study of Ohio artists in her classes, she says.
What is the hardest part of working with ceramics?
"Wrapping the project up weekly to keep it moist enough to work on it the next week," she says, adding she sees her students just once a week.
If bags aren't closed properly, clay can dry out, she explains.
Her own reward is helping her students discover their own artistic talents.
"It's nice helping kids at this level ... They're learning fundamentals and building upon it," she says. "It's neat how they take what they learn and create with their own ideas. You really see their true personalities come through."
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