Rosemount Middle School students create a peaceful retreat

Middle school’s ‘sculpture garden’ reflects famous paintings

Middle schools are places filled with youthful energy that feeds a fast-paced atmosphere. Recently a few students at Rosemount Middle School created an escape from that hectic schedule, albeit a temporary one.

Rosemount Middle School students who helped with the sculpture garden project are (from left) Jenna Peterson, Kennedy McCarthy, Brynn Sundgaard, Grace Tinsley and Declan Bernardin. Photo by Tad Johnson

Rosemount Middle School students who helped with the sculpture garden project are (from left) Jenna Peterson, Kennedy McCarthy, Brynn Sundgaard, Grace Tinsley and Declan Bernardin. Photo by Tad Johnson

Under the direction of art teacher Sue Schmidt, a crew of about 25 students turned her classroom into three-dimensional scenes based on famous paintings.

The result is a “sculpture garden” where everyday objects such as milk jugs, egg cartons and wheelbarrows have been turned into parrots, lions and sea turtles.

A foot bridge juts out from a depiction of Claude Monet’s “Giverny Garden” to invite people in to walk through three other scenes based on Henri Rosseau paintings and a moving underwater setting inspired by Christian Riese Lassen’s “Majestic Kingdom.”

“My parents thought it was amazing,” eighth-grader Tyra Horecka said. “I told them they had to go through it to see what we used to make different things.”

“They were surprised how we took ordinary things and turned them into art,” eighth-grader Ivy Frater said.

The students have been working on the project during 20-minute Irish Time sessions, which are similar to a homeroom but are geared toward intervention, remediation or enrichment activities.

The short time frame was a challenge for the students as they had to continually start and stop what they were doing over a series of days and weeks.

Many of the students stayed after school to work on the project because they were so excited about it.

“I’ve always been creative,” eighth-grader Grace Tinsley said. “I had fun with it and really enjoyed putting it together.”

The students made animals using cardboard boxes, paper towel and bathroom tissue rolls, Styrofoam, plastic pop bottles and even a light bulb. A tree wraps around a pillar with willow-like branches.

A musical backdrop and strings of icicle lights set a mood that is peaceful. Students have been encouraged to sit in the “garden” and paint, read or just relax.

“It is our little retreat,” Schmidt said. “I will be sad when we have to take it down.”

The project is a fully-realized vision of a Schmidt’s  previous “Starry Night” mural project based on Vincent Van Gogh’s famous work.

“I wanted it to move and be interactive,” Schmidt said.

The three-dimension art installation includes paper fish hanging from strings that seem to swim in the “Majestic Kingdom.” A path lined with “bricks” encircles a small “pond” where paper lily pads and origami flowers float on the water.

The students said working on the project changed the way they look at their world. Since they turned so many items that would have previously thrown in the trash or the recycling bin into works of art they are looking at everyday objects such as facial tissue boxes, wrappers and bottles in a whole new way.

Schmidt said the students were so captivated by the project that they surprised her with something new every day. A new animal would appear on the scene or something would be rearranged to create a humorous or harmonious effect.

The students also tapped into the power teamwork and of artistic creation.

“It allows me to express whatever was on my mind or emotions,” eighth-grader Brynn Sundgaard said. “It allows me to get my troubles or worries out and it’s a way to show your feelings.”

Rosemount Middle School students recreated a scene from Christian Riese Lassen’s “Majestic Kingdom” for the sculpture garden project. Photo by Tad Johnson

Rosemount Middle School students recreated a scene from Christian Riese Lassen’s “Majestic Kingdom” for the sculpture garden project. Photo by Tad Johnson

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