Monday, April 12, 2010

There's something fishy going on around here...

Over the last few weeks, we've been fortunate to have been visited by professional, working artists and friends of IslandWood's School Overnight Program. Our Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program allows SOP students to participate in up to 2 hour sessions with the visiting artist. Throughout the year, artists visit the program and provide in-depth instruction to a handful of field groups throughout the week. Visiting artists come to IslandWood from a variety of backgrounds and specialize in many disciplines, including printmaking, drumming, poetry and song writing, weaving and others.

Last week, we were visited by Larry Telles, an artist and fish biologist with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, Larry and his team met with six field groups and introduced the students to a unique form of printmaking in which students used real salmon to paint and lift prints. While seemingly unconventional at first, students quickly warmed to the technique and created some vibrant and detailed prints. Larry's method involves a real salmon (either fresh or previously preserved by freezing) that is laid on its side and painted with acrylic paints. Then a sheet of paper is placed over the fish and pressed by hand. When the paper is removed, the color salmon print is lifted onto the paper.

In addition to teaching the students about fish printing, Larry also talked to them about his role as the Project Leader at the Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery in Northwestern Oregon. With more than 30 years of experience in the field, Larry has worked with fish hatcheries throughout the Pacific Northwest and is knowledgeable about multiple species of salmon and other fish. During their sessions with Larry, the students learned about salmon life cycles and their roles within our culture and ecosystems.

Artists like Larry help our SOP students explore the ways in which science and art are both interconnected and extremely valuable to our learning environment. We look forward to continuing our relationship with AIRs!

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