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Wearing their art on their feet

Northview — North Oakview third-graders put their study of American artist Jen Stark to work during first semester at the entrance of art teacher Rosie Haugen’s classroom. 

Then, a small group of art club members got to work on their shoes. Not their own shoes, that is, but footwear their teacher purchased just for the activity, thanks to a grant from the Northview Education Foundation.

The third-graders had studied Stark’s unique painting style since the start of the school year. Throughout the first semester they created relief paper sculptures and a collaborative paint drip mural evocative of Stark’s style to transform hallway spaces outside the art room. 

“She does drip designs, like it looks like it’s dripping,” explained Jazmyne Wright. 

And the drips, added Bailey Nguyen, “look like they’re moving. Or the background is black and white. And she makes 3D ones, like, coming out at you.”

They also sketched how their own Stark-inspired designs would look on a pair of Vans sneakers. And finally, a group of seven third-graders worked for about a month during lunch recess to create their own designs on slip-on sneakers Haugen bought with grant funds.

“Sometimes it can be challenging,” pointed out Nina Pierce as she worked on her shoes with permanent markers. “That’s why you should try it first (by sketching on the shoes) with pencil.”

Haugen said Stark is a good artist for third-graders to study because they are honing can-do attitudes toward their projects, experiencing first-hand how they can learn from mistakes and how to collaborate on a larger piece by contributing smaller pieces they have created on their own.

Read more from Northview: 
Painting on the walls encouraged here
Elementary buildings welcome author with art, words of belonging

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering 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

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