Student Spotlight: Girls Art Squad creates amazing art project

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“The Breakout” is an enchanted fairy-tale art project, complete with animal sculptures created by a group of J.P. Henderson fifth-graders who call themselves the “Girls Art Squad.” They initiated the project on their own and completed it in their Culture Core class this past semester.

Each girl picked an animal and executed a drawing of it. The animals they selected were two giraffes, a unicorn, seahorse, cheetah, Siberian husky, red panda, and white tiger. They brainstormed a story about the animals escaping from the zoo and joining a pack where they could watch out for one another. The story included Grace, the queen of the seahorses, getting caught in a fishing net, and the white cheetah falling from a rock and getting trapped in a cave. Next, the girls created the animals from papier-mache, painting them, and decorating them with pearls, yarn, foil, and other materials.

The project culminated with an “opening” of an exhibition of their sculptures and a presentation to parents, teachers, and administrators on Dec. 14. In their PowerPoint, the Girls Art Squad explained the moral of their fairytale: “The imaginary tale of animal escapees is a reminder to dream big, to set big goals. When we are not satisfied, we can make changes and find friends to help us do so. It’s a story of love, of a friendship-family and of generosity.”

The students also interviewed one another about their creative process, capturing their stories in a 10-minute video. J.P. Henderson art teacher Carol Gerhardt guided the Art Squad, empowering them to believe in their creative talent and encouraging them to continue their art education.

“Constructing these papier-mache characters and writing a narrative about them became a means for these preteens to understand who they are becoming,” Gerhardt said. “It’s all about focusing that girl’s energy into a visual art form—each student became her animal character.”