Students in Mrs. Daly's seventh grade art class created projects that will be shared with the whole community come spring. Spring in New London is huge on the Wolf River, especially during the time when sturgeon fishing begins. To celebrate this exciting community activity, seventh graders each created and designed a sturgeon of their own which will be publicly displayed at Mosquito Hill Nature Center in the spring. The design of each sturgeon reflects something symbolically important to each student, and much thought was put into the design itself before the actual artwork began.
Mrs. Daly was inspired to do this project after learning about Chicago's 1999 "Cows on Parade" public art project where hundreds of fiberglass cow sculptures were decorated by local artists and displayed around the city. Similarly, in nearby Appleton, prior to the 2007 premiere of Fox Cities PAC's The Lion King, the city celebrated by creating their own public art project called "Lions of the Valley" where local artists painted fiberglass lions and distributed them throughout the city.
These public art displays not only give artists an opportunity to share their talents with the wider community, but they also create an increased sense of pride for the city as many of the artists choose to add elements representing their community into their artwork. Our students showed the same type of pride as several Wisconsin themes are also visible in their artwork.
I personally loved the idea of the public art display but felt that adding a 21st century technology component would make the display that much more powerful. Mrs. Daly and I both agreed that the artistic process of planning and designing the sturgeon was an important piece that the public would not see unless students were given an opportunity to present their entire artistic process. That led us to the decision to have students create videos explaining the meaning behind each sturgeon. After each video was created, students uploaded their videos to their school YouTube accounts. To easily share the videos with those visiting the public display at Mosquito Hill, I showed students how to create QR codes. Each sturgeon will not only have a label identifying the artist and the name of the piece, but also an attached QR code that will link the community to the videos of students sharing their artistic process.
For most students this was their first experience using QR codes. After they were created, students tested them out by scanning them using the free app QR Reader. Ah ha! moments occurred when students realized that they have seen these codes at the grocery store, on their games, and even at Starbucks! I can only imagine the things that they will scan now on their own outside of school.