Gita Ghei is a self-taught artist specializing in public art and teaching. In addition to STEM learning with metal, she incorporates themes related to natural history, such as strength in diversity among people and plants. Her residencies support science standards in artistic labs that include planning and engineering. Using a holistic approach, students take home hands-on experience as well as curiosity and confidence with material science. Gita follows a guide of sustainable art-making: to not expose students to environmentally unfriendly products, and to be mindful of waste.
Learn engineering and balance with copper and aluminum sheets. Students create tag board models, and learn material properties and oxides. Students will become familiar with pliers, wire, punch, snips, file, rivet, and hammer. Text and textures may be hammered into pieces for additional interest around science or another theme.
Note: Need one week minimum for residency.
Learn draftable mold-making with plaster, as we turn our hands into candles using plaster molds, or make unique soap bars. Color and aromatherapy are included. These classes are best done outside.
Soap Molds Casting soap from an open 1-sided plaster mold Learn the chemistry of soap molecules, make your own re-usable soap molds, and use a stove to make your own soap-on-a-rope. In the absence of a school kitchen, the third session of soap-making is done outside, with an artist-supplied burner. An additional lesson on acids and bases is available to make bath fizzies with baking soda and citric acid. Casting soap residencies require a minimum of 3 sessions.
Candles Casting candles from a 2 part plaster mold Mold your hand, face or found objects and create a sculptural candle. Wax is tinted and scented. Minimum one week residency.
Candy Making Artist provides scratch "molds" (large sugar cubes) which students use to scratch their lollipop design in reverse with picks. Gita will give a brief science lesson on sugar crystals while the sugar is cooking, and the students will help add color and flavor to the sugar syrup, and then watch their lollipop be poured. This residency requires two sessions. To create a weeklong series of session, the lesson can be combined with the "head in the cloud hats" where students use their bodies as sundials outside. The hats are decorated with the lollipop. (These hats are copper and take three sessions to make.) The hats provide an opportunity for students to discuss and learn about the sun.
Standards covered: sculpture, personal inspiration, health and safety in art materials
Cost: Material fees Note: This residency is for grades 7-12. Longer class periods may be required for large classes.
Wind Energy, Windmills & Pinwheels
In a one week residency designed for grades 5-10, students will take home an introduction to mechanical vs. electrical wind power, master making a pinwheel and designing and testing their own creative designs for electricity generating wind turbines. The class will use the engineering design process to craft and test their work. After group discussions of blade variables, crafting windmills in card stock, and time spent testing with a volt meter, students will craft their best design in heavy aluminum sheet as a take home piece. For a greater challenge, students can scale up their design and make a larger turbine, for less of a challenge, students can create a standard pinwheel in aluminum and decorate it with optical illusion drawings with Sharpie markers.
Lady Liberty: Public Art/Copper Art
Celebrate our diversity by hammering text and textures to create copper nameplates. We can watch a slide show and discuss the copper alloy bronze and its importance in art and lost wax casting. Reading a book, we discuss the artistic vision behind the Statue of Liberty and how public art is made and maintained. We look at artist intent, funding, model-making, enlarging, fabrication, transportation, installation, unveiling, maintenance, conservation and chemistry-weathering, as well as different elements, specifically iron vs. copper, rust vs. patina, etc.
Students are able to learn a variety of fabrication skills with sheet copper, such as creating a name tag, or making native tree leaves, simple lanterns, or ones that spin by way of a handmade fan run from the heat of the candle. These classes pair well with science, origami, math or simple engineering lessons.
Art standards: sculpture, historical context, tools and materials, texture, shape, creating with pattern, use by Native people, personal inspiration, exhibit work, health and safety with art materials.
Additional Learning Opportunities:
Discussion of copper, a natural resource found and used by Native Americans in the upper Midwest, and controversies over current mining.
For grades 7-12 in an extra session, the class may explore oxidization on the metal with bases and acids.
Take a field trip of local public art to learn firsthand about installation, maintenance and conservation.
Note: This program has a materials cost for copper.
The Now Clock
Play with the Now Clock, a solar powered electric sundial tent that houses an LED array that students may modify. Make a shadow maker (can be a wand or modified into a “head in the clouds hat”) with tag board and foil and be a human sundial. Using your sundial stencil, estimate sunlight angles for seasonal time and geography learning. Older students use copper; younger can use aluminum foil over tagboard. Students will learn about the earth’s rotation and geography by playing with light and shadows outside.