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Out of the Classroom and Into the Garden

After touring the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids Township, high school art students found peaceful places to draw among the rocks, water and plants.

Inspired by the rushing waterfalls, flowering plants and many sculptures, they used their drawings once back in the classroom to create miniature landscape scenes in boxes featuring Zen gardens, boulders, trees, lanterns and other elements.

Art teacher Kimberly Meyers-Baas brought 45 students in her introductory art classes, drawing and color-theory on the field trip, with transportation funding by Michigan Youth Arts.

“I wanted to get them out of the classroom to have a different experience, specifically from the Japanese art tour,” she said. “I’ve been pushing the whole idea of man versus nature and a place of meditation. I challenge them to really experience how it might be different than a western garden.”

The eight-acre, $22 million Japanese Garden opened in 2015. It was designed by Hoichi Kurisu and the firm Kurisu International.

Junior Ebony Sneed and sophomore Savion Thomas use inspiration from the garden to draw. “I like the pond and the rocks in it. It will help me draw better,” Ebony said
“Long Island Buddha” by Zhang Huan is among many sculptures in the garden
Sophomores Jaden Duong and C. Van Thang start their drawings after enjoying the gardens. “It’s very peaceful,” said C. Van
Students walk the path through the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, noticing elements as they go
Sophomore Jayden Jones checks out the sculpture “Untitled,” by Anish Kapoor
Students check out the Zen garden
Sophomore C. Van Thang takes a photo of the pond area
The Japanese Garden provides much fodder for inspiration
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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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