Last year The Orchard School’s elementary art teacher Tracey Gallion, was the recipient of an Efroymson Family Grant. This grant allowed Mrs. Gallion to travel by car along the Civil Rights Trail in June of 2021, making stops in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma. In each city, she was able to visit important museums and monuments, such as the Civil Rights Institute, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Civil Rights Memorial Center. Her final stop was in Gee’s Bend, Alabama–a place known for its tradition of unique quiltmaking. While there, Mrs. Gallion visited Loretta Pettway Bennett, who gave her a full-day tour of the town and the quilters who live and work there.
The second part of the grant was to create a collaborative artwork with the entire elementary school which was led by a guest artist who would introduce a new technique for making art. Artist Pheary Heak fits perfectly with Orchard’s love of nature, as her themes are usually nature-based. Pheary has a passion for teaching children about reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic, which also fits with Orchard’s focus on environmental stewardship. She has taught us how we can reuse plastic to create beautiful artwork.
Eventually, it was decided that we would create a large mural, with many pieces sewn together, quilt-like, to create a mural depicting a flower garden, which will be displayed outside.
For the project, kindergarten and first-grade students drew images of things like flowers, birds, bees, insects, etc. These drawings were then given to the second graders, who learned how to place layers of plastic on the top and bottom of the drawings. They pinned them down and cut around the edges. Finally, third and fourth graders learned how to use the sewing machine to add embroidered designs to the plastic-covered drawings.
It has been a wonderful experience for the students to be a part of this project, and it will be rewarding for them to see the final piece with everyone’s work pieced together in the artwork. Stay tuned!