Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch 

Kids get Wild About Art at BPSW


Kids taking part in this year's Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild Summer Education Program had the chance to get "Wild About Art" with artists John and Souheir Rawlings last week.

Every year, Sculpture in the Wild partners with Lincoln School's POUNCE after school program to host the four-day program that in one way or another looks to history and the natural world as sources of inspiration for artwork designed by the kids who take part.

"This was all based on nature and things we could find here, so they worked on feathers and pine cones and sticks and native dyes from the area," Souhier said.

"We've done a hundred thing in four days," said John, who explained they looked for things the kids could work on in stages. "If we can do things where we start and then add (the next thing) that's perfect. You keep cycling them through the day."

The results of the work by the 19 kids who took part in the program from June 25 -28 were evident all around the small education shelter that stands near the sculpture parks parking lot.

A few feet away a landscape project was underway. The beginnings of a pathway paved with brightly painted cinder block stepping stones, decorated with messages or patterns from the forest, led the way into a small circle featuring small woven willow spires reminiscent of Patrick Dougherty's Tree Circus.

Kaya Butterfield said the stepping stones were her favorite project.

"When we were doing the cement, I put on pine needles. I put on mini paw prints and a couple of leaves," she said

On a line between two nearby trees, mobiles made of sticks and pine cones and danced in the breeze next to woven hoops.

Walking sticks decorated with ribbon, feathers, pine cones and other items found in the area leaned against another tree next to pieces of cloth decorated with natural dyes drying on another set of cords strung between trees.

Souheir said the cloth, which had a passing resemblance to tie-dye, was decorated with browns created by dried grass, bark and leaves that had been pulverized in a blender, greens from chutes and reds from raspberries.

"If I came in the fall we'd use Oregon grape because they're brilliant," Souheir said after showing a group of the kids how to create a painting that interpreted the forest around them.

Annette Gardner, who coordinates the program for Sculpture in the Wild, also took on the task of creating a float for last Saturday's parade, to highlight the creations of the education program's students.

The Rawlings' returned to Sculpture in the Wild this year, after spending time last year volunteering to help Patrick Dougherty construct his willow installation.

John, a sculptor who retired as the art director for the Flathead Community College in 2014, now runs Art & Soul International with Souheir, whose art focuses on capturing the "inner expressive nature of people." They offers artist residencies and retreats in New Mexico and Venice, Italy.

This fall, Sculpture in the Wild will celebrate their fifth annual artist-in-residency, welcoming German Site-specific sculptor Cornelia Konrads, Montana visual artist Kate Hunt and University of Montana emerging artist Anne Yoncha from Sept 10 – 29. The Residency will also include a series of concerts in Lincoln by musician's Adele O'Dwyer, Phil Aaberg and Pan Morigan.


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