- Sponsorship -

Middle schoolers design mini spaces with artistic style and flair

Addison Rhoton, Chelsea Wierenga and Gia Ross blended blue and black bedazzled and metallic art to create a 6-by-10-inch teenager’s dream garage, complete with shelving, cabinets, French doors, furniture and even room for a 3-D printed car.

“I like architecture and that’s a type of art, as you can see here,” Addison said, explaining her interest in creating digital floor plans and building a space from there.

In art teacher Janine Campbell’s classroom, West Middle School seventh- and eighth-graders were busy bringing their own miniature spaces to life, step-by-step, from designing blueprints on Floorplanner.com to embellishing the rooms with little fans, pictures and even a mini lawn mower.

Eighth-grader Kennedy Silvernail paints a tiny piece

The results were small-scale “Artist Interiors” – like sophisticated little dollhouses — showcasing unique and eccentric flair. Intricate décor, colorful wallpaper and itsy-bitsy furniture complemented the design elements and principles of professional artists featured in Scholastic Art magazine.

Inspired by Artists

Campbell and STEM teacher Jamie Dennett tasked students to choose a professional artist featured in the magazine and create a room designed with that person in mind, considering style and aesthetics. They then chose an imaginary client who would live in the space: city-dwelling young professionals, future moon colonists, teenage girls who love sparkly things. For example, Addison, Chelsea and Gia modeled their style after the work of an artist named Nozami, and imagined a 16-year-old girl client named Piper.

“Whatever the design choices they are making have to fit in with their artist… it’s all a nod to things they notice the artist does in their work,” Campbell said.

Eighth-grader Reese Gildea and her group based their room on the work of artist Anila Quayyam Agha

Eighth-graders Zach Bush, Brady Ahearne and Collin Ford designed their gaming room space using principles of the artist Mickalene Thomas, who they describe as having a comic- book style. They said they used bright colors to make elements “pop” with energy. They said they learned about the effects of color on mood, from adding elegance to creating a soothing atmosphere.

They also learned about scale.  “It was a little hard to dial things down to size,” Brady said. “We had to think things through in making them small.”

Campbell said the project goes deeper than meets the eye. Students used design thinking, which involves empathizing with others to take into account their unique needs and interests when creating a product. The process is used in many creative careers, Campbell said, and gets students thinking about applying their learning when they enter the workforce.

Eighth-grader Chelsea Wierenga designed and printed wearable art. She won a Silver Key in the regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for the piece

“With middle schoolers’ social and emotional development, the idea of empathy and getting to see something through someone else’s lens is important, and if we can do that through design this is a great opportunity,” she said.

The rooms will be displayed in the school’s media center until the end of the school year.

Campbell often challenges her students to embrace out-of-the-box design.

Her students also recently created wearable art including necklaces, earrings and other pieces using TinkerCad  and Morphi 3D printing and applications on a 3D printer. Students Joshua Hager, Chelsea Wierenga Chase Miller and Allison VanderSloot won regional Scholastic Art Awards  for their design and the project was featured in SchoolArts Collection Magazine.


Thinking by design, solving problems and having fun

Teachers team up to design think their way to cross-curriculum project

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
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 or email Erin.


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

Class of 2021 has ‘test-optional’ choice when applying for college

Most schools in the state of Michigan have become SAT/ACT-optional for the Class of 2021 for admission purposes. There are, however, pros and cons for students...

Schools in nine districts announce closures as COVID cases spike

New temporary school building closures were announced by nine school districts in Kent ISD this week, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...

Musical prodigy, international performer, fourth-grader

When Cameron Renshaw was in kindergarten he kept asking his mom, Tina Renshaw, about the cello in her closet...
- 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