- Sponsorship -

Students express selves through words, drawings, and their own hands

Ivan Reynolds said he doesn’t claim to know the nature of humanity, “but I think about it a lot.”

The high school junior said he often expresses that thinking through his artwork, as in a piece he recently completed in Susan Langford’s studio art class. The assignment she gave to her 20 or so students was to convey a concept using a three-dimensional cast of their own hand, a drawing, and the written word.

Ivan chose peace. His project included a plaster cast of his hand, a pop-up drawing of another hand, and two sheets of paper in the center: one transparent with an olive branch drawn on the front, the other with a message written like a ransom note. The entire piece relies heavily on biblical allusion, metaphor and, as Ivan’s artist’s statement reads in part:

“I wanted to emphasize how art sacrifices even when it has nothing to give; art sacrifices to the viewer, to the creator and to the piece as a whole. … I wanted to capture the palpable feeling of desire in those who are seeking value in their lives. … The viewer can read the piece for the exact wording, but the ransom note format was an intentional metaphor to how hate can possess our lives, a ransom mitigated only by peace. For me, peace is achieved through art, serving and spirituality.”

Student Ivan Reynolds chose to focus on peace in his art project

Strong Symbolism

Langford has had her students do plaster casting before, and always requires writing as part of art projects, but this was the first time her students did the project in just this way. She said she was impressed by what they achieved.

“The symbolism was exceptional, and everybody’s work on this was really, really good,” she said.

Isabella Blakely’s piece included a cast of her hand grasping one that she had drawn, covered in vines.

“Thorns represent the little problems and setbacks that can pull you down,” Isabella said.

Lowell High School art teacher Susan Langford

Classmate Olivia Brenner aimed to convey her giving nature and her attachment to the people and things in her life. She illustrated this with a drawing of a hand holding flowers and a cast of her own cupped hand with real, stemmed flowers dangling between the outstretched fingers.

“I feel like I’m a very organized person, but I also have a lot of flaws,” Olivia explained. “Then there’s a conflict that I want to get out on my own but I’m still a homebody. I’m going to college, which I’m excited about but also a little afraid.”

Her piece, Olivia said, shows how “it can get confusing, but it’s all still very beautiful.”


Art and chemistry create some magic

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Education foundation awards 16 teacher requests for funding, totaling nearly $12,900

Some $12,000 in available grant funds remain, and may go to spring mini-grants or to fund requests that arise this year due to COVID-19 uncertainty...

This trail leads to kindness

More than 300 student-painted rocks were hidden along the trailway near school as part of an elementary orienteering lesson...

Secondary schools go back to hybrid for three weeks

Lowell Middle and High schools are returning to a hybrid learning schedule beginning Monday, Nov. 2...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU