SESFishArtOriginally Published The Nugget News March 29, 2016
Author Erin Borla

During art classes at Sisters Elementary School(SES), artist in residence Laura Campbell has been working alongside art teacher Karen Williams with students in kindergarten through fourth grade developing a mural for the school’s fence along Highway 20.

The artist in residence program, funded by the Studio to School grant through Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) in partnership with the Sisters School District, has been working on integrated arts curriculum in grades K-8.

Over the two weeks before spring break students at SES painted wooden fish, rocks, and other riparian items found in Whychus Creek. The fish ranged in sizes from six to 36 inches. All students were able to paint a fish; some of the younger students painted fish together, along with help from Williams or Campbell.

“This is an incredibly integrated project,” said Campbell. “We were able to talk about rivers and fish – the students were very excited about steelhead. Talking about Whychus Creek and steelhead opened the door to talk about different things that make rivers work.”

Students learned about boulders and rocks and why they are important to fish. In the classroom they talked about turbidity, temperature, and keeping the rivers clean.

“We talked about how steelhead make the journey all the way to the ocean where they become big fish,” said Campbell, “and why their home needs to be healthy for them to return.”

What started out as an elementary school project quickly evolved into a larger community event. Integrated Educational Experience (IEE) class interns from Sisters High School (SHS) came to the elementary schoolto help paint fish and talk river science with the younger students.

“This project has been chaotic but great,” said Campbell. “Working with 30 young students and paint has been exciting.”

The fish painting will continue after spring break at SES and through classes at the other schools. Students within a few classes including the IEE program at SHS as well as the ECOS program at Sisters MiddleSchool will have the opportunity to work on painting portions of the mural.

The project will be celebrated at a “River Celebration” sponsored by SFF at The Belfry in May. Students can expect to see their work installed on the fence by the end of the school year.

“This river is very important to us,” said Campbell. “We have a community around it and supporting it, and it is bringing the community together.”