What once was an old window is now an expression of Hobbton High junior Keith Rogers’ beliefs. For Ivan Ramon, it’s a testament to the game of soccer. And, for April Chavarria, it’s myriad thoughts played out on a canvass of glass.
The windows, much like the assortment of glass bottles and mirrors that adorn Jennifer Jackson’s art room at the school, were once someone’s discarded scraps of trash. Now they are treasures brought to life by teen artists.
What many people see as nothing more than useless trash, Jackson and her students see as opportunities, and they are hoping those with items they want to throw away will think twice before tossing them on the trash heap, opting instead to offer them up as donations to the school and, more specifically, the art department.
“It’s green art, of sorts,” Jackson explained last week as she provided a tour of her classroom, where paint brushes transform a rainbow of colors into masterpieces of design.
“I take things that people would throw in the trash and let the kids create art from them. We use just about anything — old bottles and windows, mirrors, spools of wire, wood pieces … you name it. It’s just like that old saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
A self-professed hoarder, Jackson said she can often see a jewel in items others think have long since worn out their usefulness. Her students are much the same, viewing old, chipped pieces of wood, scratched mirrors and chipped bottles as transforming opportunities.
For students in Jackson’s honors Art III class, the treasures are quickly coming to life as those old windows and mirrors are cleaned up, then turned into a canvass echoing with colorful expressions.
“It’s kind of like a recycled dream,” said Rogers, a junior in the class. “This stuff we work with was once something somebody else loved. Now we’re making it useful again.”
Classmate Taylor Olson likens it to seeing something through new eyes. “It doesn’t look old or like a piece of junk. When I look at the mirror or the window, I see what it can be, then I go to work to turn it into what I can see.”
It’s all part of the lessons of art, as Jackson works with her students to move their visions from their minds to paper, or in this case, bottles, mirrors and windows, sometimes even rocks.
As the windows undergo their metamorphosis, Jackson mixes her daily art lessons with a little math, some science and a touch of history.
“It’s collaborative teaching. My Art III students are exposed to art history, too, so it works well. We talk about medieval times, periods when stained glass was widely used, and then they take these windows and make their own faux stained glass. They get a better appreciation of the period even as they are getting a better understanding of the art.”
And, the students are quick to point out, that this is learning that is fun and exciting, a way to be hands-on with the lessons being taught.
“You are turning something basic into a work of art.” Ramon points out. “For me, it’s soccer. I love the game, and what I transform my window into is an extension of something I love.”
True, too, for senior Barbara Southerland, who enjoys art for its ability to allow her self-expression in unique ways.
“Take this bottle,” she said, rolling the colorful glass around in her hand, “I never thought I could turn this into something, but now I know I can.”
Jackson encourages their vision, urging them to experiment. “Everything is trial and error. And I want them to use their imaginations and let them run wild, putting it all together on whatever object they choose.”
And that’s where the unique treasures come in. Rather than just working with paint and paper, the doors, windows, bottles and various other items allow greater forms of expression in unique and varied ways.
“I like working with different things,” points out Taylor Olson. “To take something that has been thrown away and turn it into something that will make people do a double-take, now that’s special to me.”
And it’s exactly why Jackson is making an appeal to residents to offer up the items they think of as junk or trash for use in the art department.
While this school year is winding down, Jackson said it was the perfect time to begin collecting objects for next year.
“There are a lot of items that most people think of as junk, stuff they perhaps have been hording and have decided to get rid of … well, instead of getting rid of it, I hope they consider donating it to us.”
The students agree.
“We are always looking for different things to use in our class. If we can take what people think of as junk, or trash, off their hands, we’d love to do it. We can make it into something really beautiful,” Southerland said.
To donate to the Hobbton art department, call Jackson at 564-0242 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.