AAHS & Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Australian Dream Time Totems Collaborative Installation Project

Art Discipline: Visual Arts

AAHS with five artist and 62 ceramics II, Art Installation and Mural Club & National Art Honor Society students were able to create 35 Aboriginal Dreamtime Totem sculptures for permanent display both at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the senior courtyard at AAHS. The experience was well worth all the hard work and dedication. Lots of school time and additional time was needed to reach our goal. We had upwards of twenty dedicated students show up during 5 of 9 days of spring break to make sure that we would meet our deadline. The high point will be shared by students within their testimonials but for myself I feel that the highlight was seeing the kids' glowing faces of pride as they shared their stories and final completed sculptures with the president of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Bob Chastine, and the principal of AAHS Mrs. Toria McGill. There were many challenges throughout this project starting with delayed access to funds, breakage of projects in the kilns during the firing process, unrelenting rainfall during the month of May where we even had to wade through knee deep water during a flash flood. There were many unique experiences with students but the one that stands out the most for me is Kira Olson a senior working on her project with her mother during spring break this process was very time consuming and intense at times but they persevered together and when they found out that their totem was one of twenty selected to be placed within the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo they both nearly jump out of their skin in ecstatic joy and triumph. Nearly 700,000 visitors will see the student's final works of art annually at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, I am so happy and proud of my student’s projects. I would have to rate this experience as priceless, all the money in the world couldn't come close to the feelings that my students and I felt when we got to revisit our artworks during the unveiling ceremony at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. I believe that any school with art teachers that desire to leave lasting durable permanent legacies in and out of their schools and or communities could easily replicate this project and I know that this project could be scaled down or modified to be completed by any grade level K-12th grade. All four of the CDE Visual Arts standards were met and addressed but I will speak specifically two several. AAHS students (CDE STD 1 observed and learned to comprehend) by researching and reading Aboriginal Dreamtime stories via the Internet. Students became familiar with Aboriginal symbols and symbolism to help them develop designs that were appropriate and communicated history and culture. Through art critiques (CDE STD 2 Envision and critique to reflect) students learned how to improve and refine their draft sketch designs and final clay sculptures. Finally AAHS students met our goals and addressed (CDE STD 4 Relate and connect to transfer) experiencing firsthand how art is a lifelong endeavor by creating permanent sculptures.

Project Images