Taf Lebel Schafer
I am one of a number of artists in Maryland who are a part of the Artist-in-Education Program. It is funded by the State's Art Council and the artists do projects in area schools. I worked with Tridelphia Ridge 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students and we built a mosaic totem pole depicting the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly. We used a fiberglass pole and set glass globs, found objects, wire, plexiglass and Venetian glass into exterior mortar. As you can see from the photos we showed the eggs with green grout around them for a leafy contrast and then the caterpillars were built up over flexible plastic tubing and covered with Venetian glass. We used the green coating from garden hoses along with lots of glass globs and wire to portray the chrysalis and finally in their orange glory, the Monarchs themselves. We used black grout as a part of the wings and surrounded the butterflies with blue glass for the sky and then topped the pole with a yellow sun. We later (after the photos were taken) enhanced the totem pole with plantings of butterfly weed, milkweed, and butterfly bush. We hope to have a self-sustaining Monarch habitat surrounding our Monarch Metamorphosis Totem Pole.
A core group of students had a very hands on art experience and learned how to apply mortar, tiles and grout and to think about how art and nature relate. The remaining student body did all types of artwork pertaining to the butterfly ending with a school ceremony and celebration of nature and conservation.
We are proud of our Monarch Totem Pole and hope that you can post our photos and a description of the project. During the project I received constant support from Debbie Bourke, the art teacher at Tridelphia Ridge Elementary School in Ellicott City, Maryland.