mjordan2@sdale.orgDistrict elementary and high school students have collaborated to create artwork inspired by creatures that roam the earth, as well as their imaginations.

About 100 students from Young and Westwood elementary schools created colorful creature drawings for the project, which some 100 Springdale High School painting and ceramics students used to inspire their own works of art.

“It’s important for the students that they know their artwork is important,” said Cassandra Combs, who teaches first- and fifth-grade art at Young and Westwood elementary schools.


The project has been an inspiring experience for the participating Springdale High School students, said Whitney Bell, Springdale High painting teacher.

“They don’t believe me when I say they’re all artists,” Bell said.

First graders have no challenges seeing themselves as creators, a trait that progressively falls away as they grow older, she said.

This truth made having the elementary school creature drawings a good starting point for the high schoolers’ creations, Bell said.

“It broke that barrier of figuring out what to draw and how to draw it,” she said. “It removed their insecurities.”

mjordan2@sdale.orgCombs said her young students used the “Exquisite Creatures” exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as inspiration for their creature drawings, which ranged from birds to mythical beasts.

“Exquisite Creatures” began March 16 and will be featured at the museum until July 29, according to Crystal Bridges website. The exhibit features works by artist Christopher Marley and showcases pieces created from reclaimed or sustainably obtained animal, mineral and plant specimens arranged in precise, geometric compositions.

“It sounded amazing, and it’s cool to look at,” Combs said, adding she felt the exhibit’s bugs and creatures would especially interest the first-graders.

mjordan2@sdale.orgAmanda Craddick, Springdale High ceramics teacher, said turning the two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional sculptures required some creative problem solving for the ceramics students.

“It’s important for students to put the skills they learned into practice to create three-dimensional sculptures inspired by the elementary students’ artwork,” she said. “Students have been doing a great job interpreting the artwork.”

mjordan2@sdale.orgSpringdale High senior Kate Rodriguez created a landscape painting based on an elementary student’s drawing, while senior Cathy Polanco painted a piece featuring a cat.

Rodriguez said she enjoyed the experience of interpreting the younger students’ artwork.

“Just their imagining it and recreating it has been fun,” she said.

Polanco agreed, adding she related to the elementary students’ creations.

“You definitely get to be more creative and put some of your characteristics in with theirs and bring it to life,” she said. “This used to be us at one point.”

The collaboration has some elementary students already looking forward to taking art classes in high school, Combs said.

“They could see the progress of their artwork,” she said.

mjordan2@sdale.orgAll three collaborating teachers said they’d like to participate in such a project again in the future.

“It’s been so fun,” Bell said, adding the teachers may explore another collaboration in the fall.

Combs said she’d like to consider continuing to use Crystal Bridges exhibits as inspiration for future collaborations.

“Crystal Bridges is such a great resource, and they always have interesting shows happening,” she said.

Bell said the collaboration’s artwork was completed April 19 and was displayed April 26 at Springdale High School's annual La Plaza de SHS event, which is sponsored by the SHS World Languages department. The event features visual and performing arts, games, food and entertainment in celebration of the school’s many diverse cultures.

The Springdale High School students gifted their works to the elementary students who inspired them following the event, Bell said.