JPS Puts Students on Display at the GRAM

Just before Thanksgiving, Bursley Elementary School 5th graders, Pinewood Elementary 5th graders and Jenison High School Introduction to Art Students in grades 9 – 12 had the unique opportunity to show their artwork at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). On a frigid Saturday afternoon, students, their families and Jenison community members enjoyed the creativity that comes when students are inspired by educators who are inspired by art.
Today we talk to Mrs. Moynihan about this special afternoon:
How long have you been preparing for this gallery event?
Emily Derusha and I (Lindsay Moynihan) attended a professional development day at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Spring 2012. We were so inspired by the work of artist Robert Rauschenberg and the cost effective lessons the GRAM provided that tied into his work, that we decided we would try and collaborate on a project with our students. We worked on the lesson plan over the summer and finalized everything in December of last year. The lesson itself took our students close to one month to complete. We examined the work of Robert Rauschenberg and then learned several different art techniques that students were required to incorporate into a final mixed media piece of art.
Why is showing at a gallery important for young artists? 
We have incredibly talented visual artists in our district, but art is a quiet subject, and as a result sometimes our program gains and individual student talents and accomplishments are not visible to the public. Showing at a gallery gives our students the opportunity to “perform” in a visible and recognized way, just as marching band is seen at half time shows, our athletes at games, and theater students in musicals. This experience validates them as the accomplished artists they are now and gives them a vision of possibility for the future.
Additionally, showing at the gallery in downtown Grand Rapids builds a connection between our Jenison and Grand Rapids communities. Art is one of the incredible commonalities of all people through all times, and this is one small example of communities coming together through art. To that end, we would like to thank the Bursley Parent Club for providing funding for the embroidery hoops that were used in the printmaking process as well as the Grand Rapids Art Museum for providing this amazing opportunity for our students.
Student Kate Koning stands next to her artwork at the GRAM.

Student Kate Koning stands next to her artwork at the GRAM.

What do you hope your students (orJPS art kids) will take away from this event?
It is our hope that all of our art students who participated in this collaborative project are walking away with an appreciation for what goes into creating a piece of art. We also hope that they were inspired by Rauschenberg and his message of conservation as well as the creativity of their collaborators. For those who participated in the show at the art museum, we hope they were as proud of their accomplishments as we were, and that they have learned a little bit about the professional aspect of being an artist and putting together a show.
Our thanks to Emily Derusha and Lindsay Moynihan for their dedication to the visual arts and for taking the time to share their thoughts about this exhibit!

Jenison Senior Wins Distracted Driving Billboard Contest

With the increasing prevalence of cell phones and the temptation of text messaging, accidents have been on the rise and drivers young and old have reason to be wary. That’s why the Ottawa County Sheriffs office has educated high school students on the dangers of distracted driving for the past five years.

After spending time in Ottawa County high schools and teaching specifically on the dangers of being distracted behind the wheel, officers turned the teaching over to the students. They presented them with the opportunity of a lifetime: create a piece of art that will be displayed on westbound 196 in Grand Rapids.

We are proud to announce that for the second year in a row, a Jenison High School student has won first place! Senior Cody McConnell will have his creation (seen below) positioned near the Market Avenue exit.

Jenison High School, Distracted Driving, Ottawa County

Mrs. Moynihan is the JHS art teacher who assigned the billboard project to her entire Computer Creations 2 class. Using it as an opportunity to introduce various graphic design fundamentals, she showed the class “two very emotional videos in addition to having deputies come in.” She also secured a driving simulator so that her students could clearly see and experience what it’s like to drive while distracted.

Cody was Mrs. Moynihan’s student in both Computer Creations 1 and 2. She shares, “During the 1st computer class his designs showed a lot of promise so I strongly encouraged him to take the second class as he would be able to take the creative part of his work to the next level.”

After three years of participating and two first place awards, Mrs. Moynihan couldn’t be more thrilled.
“I really enjoy introducing this project to my students every year. It’s a difficult subject to address for some of the kids but I think the message to drive safe and keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel is one worth hearing. I know my own driving habits have changed for the better since working with this program.”

Congrats to Cody for winning this important, life-saving contest!

Spring Student Art Show at JPS

Art students and teachers from L to R: Kendra Beattie, Mrs. Moynihan, Kendall Farkas, Lorin Jollands, Mrs. VanderPlas, Andrew Bosker

Max Eastman once said, “It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.” 

For the next two weeks, art students at Jenison High School are making life, interest, and importance part of the conversation by displaying their work for the community to see. Judged by Kendall College of Art and Design as a high school whose art department is in the top 5% of the state, the imagination captured at the art show does not disappoint.

One such student with a passionate imagination is senior Andrew Bosker. Already dually-enrolled at Kendall College of Art and Design, Andrew is interested in pursuing an illustration degree after graduation and thanks Mrs. VanderPlas for the help she’s offered him as he compiles his portfolio.

“I always pop into the art room if I have extra time so I can work on my current projects. There’s a lot of pressure to create an impressive portfolio and include the right things. Kendall wants us to select only about eight pieces.”

Whether it’s drawing, studio art, painting, or his current AP class, Andrew seems to filter all aspects of his world through the lens of an artist. He eagerly awaits a future in which he can fully utilize his talent as part of his career. Best of luck to you, Andrew!

Kendra Beattie is another senior taking advantage of Kendall College of Art and Design’s dual enrollment option. A Kendall adjunct professor, our own Mrs. VanderPlas (affectionately known by her students as “VP”) teaches extra classes twice a week, offering an additional six hours of instruction for serious artists like Kendra.

“I’ve been taking art since my sophomore year with VP, and through taking her classes and getting her advice on a personal level, my art has improved dramatically,” Kendra said. 

Kendra favors working with watercolor and graphite pencil, and plans to take next year off to work on her portfolio. She plans to pursue a psychology/art study path that will lead to a career as an art therapist. We’re excited to see it happen!

Kendall Farkas is a senior ceramics student who plans to study archaeology next year at GVSU. She knows that art will always be in her future somehow–whether she’s creating it herself or helping to discover the work of people from centuries past.

With a love for pottery, Mrs. Moynihan’s recent project to craft a shoe out of clay with an “outside element” was right up her alley.

“I love Mrs. Moynihan,” Kendall smiled. “I’ve had her for two years now. She’s really talented and you can obviously see that. But it’s the personal attention and encouragement she gives that’s amazing.”

Kendall shared that her inspiration for the key comes from her “love of old things” and her hobby of collecting antiques. Mrs. Moynihan helped her find just the right key for this project, adeptly fitting it between the laces of a red shoe that matched the ones on Kendall’s feet the day we spoke.

Best wishes to her as she begins her adventures after graduation!

Sophomore Lorin Jollands is new to art at JPS, but she already lists “pencil” as her favorite medium to work with.

“Sometimes when you’re walking around you don’t always notice how light hits things…but it can be very pretty. Pencil captures that.”

It’s funny how many things in life go unnoticed when you’re walking around. Whether it’s the way light falls against spring trees or the delicate nature of a nest outside your window, life moves at such a pace that we can easily become blind to its beauty.

I’m grateful that these students and all of our artists in Jenison Public Schools remind us to slow down.

To find something of interest.

To ignite our imaginations.

And to count it all as important.

~ ~ ~

The Spring Student Art Show is set up in the high school media center and is open during school hours.