Elkford students learn from local artist Katherine Russell

Students at Elkford Secondary School were mentored by local artist Katherine Russell in creating a piece titled “At Rest”.

“At Rest”

Students at Elkford Secondary School were mentored by local artist Katherine Russell in creating a piece titled “At Rest”. Russell, who is a professional glass blower, worked with a range of students from grades 10, 11 and 12 for two and a half months to complete the project.

“I think it was about March last year that I approached the high school art teacher about doing a project together and she was very, very receptive to the idea,” said Russell, crediting art teacher Joanne Merriman.

The two partnered and utilized a grant provided by the Columbia Basin Trust.

“It’s called the Artist in the Classroom stream of funding from the Columbia Basin Trust, and it’s to fund professional artists coming into the classroom to work with the students and the materials involved, so it’s a fairly large grant to do this,” said Russell.

The project started in September, when Merriman took her students to take photos of birds that are local to the area. In October, Russell went to the high school and worked with the students to incorporate their images of birds into her design. To her, it was important to involve the students in all stages of the project, not only the technical ones. Under the instruction of Russell, the students learned how to kiln form.

“In my kiln here in Elkford, I fused the layers of glass that they were going to be carving and then in the classroom, I brought some panels into the classroom and then we applied a resist, and then they could do their drawings on the resist and cut that out with an Exacto knife,” explained Russell.

There was a range of grades and abilities all participating in the project, and some took to it more than others.

“Some of the students were really, really into it. They really loved the challenge of it. There was a range of abilities and a range of interest for the project. Some of the students just really sunk their teeth into it and just totally got into it.”

“At Rest” now has a home in the school, displayed prominently at the front entrance. Russell doesn’t know how long the project will stay there, but hopes it won’t be a short time.

“It could be decades. We have quite a permanent home for the artwork in the school,” she said. “. It’s a permanent location, so who knows how long it will be there.”

Overall, Russell said it “was an absolutely positive experience” to work with high school students and would gladly take on other opportunities to do so. She invited teachers who are interested in potentially partnering with her to check out her website or the Artist in the Classroom website at Artstarts.com.