ART, SCIENCE AND LITERATURE COMBINE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSOOM
An artist whose medium is glass guided grade 7 English students through a project of personal reflection after reading “A Monster Calls.”
Patrick Ness’s novel recounts a boy’s struggle with grief, loss and honesty during his mother’s illness through text and haunting illustrations.
“The whole point of the book is for the boy to express his personal truth,” Ash Barrett said. English teachers Scott Guldin and Kelly Finn invited artist and Barstow parent Hasna Salam to work with students using that theme as a focal point.
“Art is a language. Expression through lines and shapes can unfold what may be challenging through words,” Salam said. “I was especially touched when one child said to me, ‘Thank you for teaching us this class. I could express myself through this exercise and it made me feel so much better.’ I think our kids are more challenged today than I ever was at their age. They have a lot to deal with and so whatever avenue or opening we can provide them with will be great for them at multiple levels.”
Salam gave students squares of glass, each piece containing elements including iron, sodium or beryllium that affect how they react when heated, a process she explained as the coefficient of expansion. Students traced sketches of their own personal truths onto the panes with paint; Salam will add more glass to layer and retain surface tension, then fuse and fire polish the 54 original works. She called the classroom experience eye opening.
“These seventh graders are so mature in their thinking. Their translation from abstract thought to two-dimensional form was so lucid,” she said. The drawings captured students’ fear, expectations for the future and influential events in their lives. “I’m impressed.”
Earlier this year, Salam displayed some of her own glasswork at Barstow. Her colorful sea creatures hung from the lobby ceiling during February’s middle school musical production of “A Little Mermaid.”