Over the past two weeks students in the 1st – 3rd grades at West Side Academy have been working on designing and engraving three metal feathers to be used on a life-size tree sculpture/costume and a 6 foot wall hanging. Students created a feather with an image of a tree and one feather with an image of a bird. By the end of the residency there will be over 300 feathers that cover the tree sculpture. The sculpture/costume will be the main feature in my new book Shimmerling.
This was my first week working with West Side Academy’s 1st-3rd graders and I was so impressed with the work they did! I explained to them the residency and read them the manuscript and showed them the storyboards for Shimmerling. Then they got a chance to show me what the Shimmerling should look like.
The next session we started by doing a guided medication and then talked about self-acceptance. We also explored feeling left our or being teased, how that makes us feel, and talked about seeing ourselves for who we really are. I asked them to talk about some tough emotions, and I was really proud of how they committed to telling their truth. We talked about the importance of exploring our feelings, even when it’s hard, and trying to understand why we feel hurt. We also discussed how journaling can help us do this.
The next day we did another guided meditation to try and clear any of the negative energy from the day before when we talked about hurt feelings. Then the students began to design a symbol that could show their unique selves. To do this they chose a word that best described them, picked an animal that they felt best represented them, and a color that felt was most truly them. They mixed up aspects of all of those things to design a unique symbol. Next week we start engraving their symbols into metal feathers!
I just saw the exhibit Life Cycles at the Gallery@Large. It’s a wonderful show with some pretty powerful messages. I loved the quote above my pieces from the CommuniTree book - Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
– Thomas Merton
Student artists explore nature’s life cycles at Arts@Large exhibit
October 24, 2013
by Maria Corpus
… Among the many projects on display [at the Arts @ Large Life Cycles exhibit] are shadow boxes created by students from Parkside School for the Arts with visual artist and author Andrea Skyberg. Artwork from the shadow boxes project was photographed and used to illustrate a book titled “CommuniTree,” by Skyberg.
Adela Ramirez, 6, flipped through the pages of “CommuniTree,” which includes her artwork, as her mother, Christina Ramirez, watched. According to Ramirez, helping a child become more environmentally aware is part of educating her.
November 1, 3:45pm at the Wauwatosa Library
The books of Andrea Skyberg and M.W. Greer, the husband-and-wife team behind Wooden Nickel Press, feature artwork created in collaboration with students from Wisconsin schools. In addition to Skyberg’s latest endeavor, CommuniTree, they will be presenting Greer’s new mid-grade novel, The Eyes of India, and sharing stories of their collaborative processes. Schools, and other authors and artists, will discover ways to explore collaborations of their own.
Wauwatosa Public Library
7635 West North Ave. Wauwatosa, WI 53213
I’m so excited to hear that Squircle won a Moonbeam Award! Every year I keep an eye on these awards to pick books for my own personal library, and now I get to join the company of so many amazing books!
Moonbeam Spirit Awards - For dedication to children’s books and literacy and for inspired writing, illustrating and publishing.
It’s pretty cool to see two of my books and Michael’s new book make the Top Sellers list at Boswell Book Company!
Books for Kids:
1. The Eyes of India, by M. W. Greer
2. CommuniTree, by Andrea Skyberg
3. Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo
4. More Than This, by Patrick Ness
5. Squircle, by Andrea Skyberg
Thank you to everyone who came to help us celebrate the launch of my husband, Michael’s new book The Eyes of India! We had so much fun presenting our books together, talking with friends, signing books and taking pictures with the art! Michael’s new book is available on Amazon and at Wooden Nickel Press. I’m excited to say that CommuniTree will get a second printing, as we have sold out of all of our copies! There are still a few on Amazon, but new stock will be coming in the next month.
Reviewer: Alice Berger
Evie sets out into the forest to catch a squirrel. She soon becomes frustrated and impatient, so a duck explains how flapping her wings – duckflap – calms her down. Evie tries it, and soon happily goes off exploring again.
In a series of interactions with the various forest animals, Evie learns about herself and how to better handle life. Living in the moment, going with the flow, and listening to one’s own inner wisdom are all explored.
The unique and colorful illustrations in Squircle include hand-embroidery from elementary school students. Fabric pieced together form murals used as the artwork for scenery. Squircle was recently voted a Mom’s Choice Gold Award Winner in the Inspiration/Motivational category. This beautiful book has a great message and would make a nice addition to any child’s library.
Michael has been working on his mid-grade novel for a couple of years and we’re excited that in a short time it will be back from the printers! We’re having an event on September 27th at Boswell Books to launch the book and also share how we create our book through collaborations with schools. We will have some of the original artwork on display and there will be a book signing following the presentation.
I’ve been enamored with Emery Blagdon since I first learned of his work back in a graduate folk art class. There is something about his eyes, face, and of course the beautiful mixed media sculptures which form the Healing Machine, that make me feel like I’m looking at something very pure and true.
There is an amazing new documentary out on Emery’s life and work, which includes a lot of photos I haven’t seen before and some live footage of Emery from when he was alive. You can view the video here.
I’ve worked with schools to create interpretations of Emery’s Healing Machines and the results are always fabulous. Here is one I did with elementary students.
Check out the Youtube trailer/making of CommuniTree
On the surface we look like individuals, but hidden below, like the roots of the great Quaking Aspen trees, we’re connected. In the same way a family has a family tree, our community has a CommuniTree. On a family tree, each branch represents a person. On a CommuniTree, individuals are connected by our roots of shared values and collective ideas. Our connections take form in our collaborations, the music we make together, our trust in one another, and in the seeds of love that we continuously plant.
About the project:
CommuniTree was created in collaboration with 686 students (K4 – 8th grade) from Dover School and Tippecano School for the Arts & Humanities, during a time when these two separate schools were merging together to form Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts. In an effort to take an active role in building their new school, students worked with artist and author Andrea Skyberg to develop a children’s picture book about community.
I’m excited to say that Squircle has been honored as a Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Recipient! The Mom’s Choice Awards® is known for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly products. This annual competition recognizes authors creating quality family-friendly products. Parents, educators, librarians and retailers rely on Mom’s Choice evaluations when selecting quality materials for children and families.
I’ve been working with Tippecaone & Dover schools, which will soon merge to form Parkside School for the Arts & Humanities, to create a picture book about community. For the last five weeks the 686 students have been working with me to write and illustrate the book. So far we don’t have a title, but we’ve been working hard on our collage artwork. Here’s how the project has developed…
1. Students in grades K4-8th grade brainstormed with me to find themes within the idea of community. We needed 22 themes as there are 22 classrooms within the two schools. Each student wrote about that theme that was assigned for their classroom. This writing could be either a narrative story or a poem. Students also drew a picture related to the topic. In addition to the students’ drawings and writing, we used pages from the book that each grade is reading (11 books were selected by the teachers to help students explore the idea of community a bit deeper) and sheet music that the students created with composer, Dr. Mark Mantel.
2. With these materials, tissue paper, and glue, we created unique collage paper. The students brainstormed symbols to represent the theme each classroom is working on. These symbols are then created as a collage artwork and incorporated into the larger collage. The finished 22 collages will be photographed and used as page spreads in the book. The teachers will be working together to create the cover for the book.
3. When the artwork is complete we will work together to compose the story, refining the rhythm, wording, and composition.
4. The final book will be released on June 5, 2014 and an accompanying CD of the music that Dr. Mark Mantel created with the students will be included with the book.
Here are some photos of the work we’ve done. The drawings are storyboards of the page spreads. There will be a tree included in each page spread. The tree helps connect the story and symbolically represents the people and community of the story.
“Squircle” is a fantastic representative collaboration between artist/author Andrea Skyberg and students of five Wisconsin schools, creating fabric applique murals and artworks about a central theme of interconnectedness. These completed large murals are woven into a creative story about Evie a girl who carries a ball or red twine, a box and a twig into the forest. At first Evie wants to catch a squirrel, so she makes a trap from her box and then becomes angry when the squirrel eludes her trap. Her first lesson is titled “Duckflap,” illustrated by a beautiful fabric mural of a duck who flaps to set anger free. Evie goes on to learn five important lessons in interconnectedness, living in the present, learning to listen to her inner voice, flowing through life without resisting what happens, and finally, “Squircle,” an experience of coming full circle by sharing a connection with all beings and things. Each enlightenment is fabulously interpreted by a joint project fabric art mural made, and retained by a different school. The narrative pictures in black and white with red twine help describe the inner journey completed by Evie. A truly unique creative feature of “Squircle” is the creative connecting of two words to make a new joint concept, like “Duckflap,” “Fishflow,” “Right -Now-A-Pillar Time,” “Deerly Listen,” and of course, “Squircle.” “Squircle” is a truly wonderful children’s book that has to be savored, published by Wooden Nickel Press, whose mission is described as “to publish books that exhibit an original & inspired connection between storytelling and fine art. Certainly the quality of art and storytelling displayed in “Squircle” is extremely fine, deserving wide acclaim and deeply educational enjoyment. Although “Squircle” is technically a children’s book, easily accessible to those age 6 and up, adults will also find it fascinating and rewarding to read and examine. What a gift to all!
I’ve been really busy on a really exciting project, which I’ll share soon, but in the meantime I have to share my daughter Evey’s new picture book, The Queens of Spring which she wrote and illustrated! I’m very proud of her! Queens-of-Spring-Evey-Skyberg-Greer
I just finished a three week residency with Lincoln school where I worked with kindergardeners and first graders to create quilting squares and banners. The first graders created portraits and the kindergardeners created images of musical instruments and objects from Latino culture. The students appliquéd and then sewed together their images. The finished pieces will be on display in a school exhibition, which is called Celebrating Latino Culture later this year.
I just returned from the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrator’s conference in NYC. I was able to show my portfolio and meet some great people.
- Hearing Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton talk about how they collaborate when writing a book. This was particularly interesting to me since my husband and I work together often.
- Mo Williems talking about the story versus the hook (Oh, that’s Deborah!) I think most people were expecting him to be a great speaker, but I was happily surprised to find him entertaining and informative.
- Listening to Kate Fletcher, Editor at Candlewick Press, talk about the company and what she wants to publish. I’ve always liked the books published by Candlewick, but finding out more about the company and how they support their authors was really interesting and inspiring.
Here are some photos of the trip.
Linda D’Acquisto created this great video that shows me talking about the pieces in the gallery exhibition, Threads That Connect, which was showcased at the Arts@Large gallery October 19, 2012 – Jan.8, 2013.
My husband has a new middle grade novel coming out in September, 2013 called The Eyes of India! The book is available to pre-order on his website.
Have you ever wondered what happens when we die?
The question has been running laps in Annie’s head for two days since her dog was hit by a car. When her Grandma Evelyn stops by to visit, she begins to tell a story from her past that might help Annie to see the death of her dog in a whole new way.
The story begins in India, where a young Evelyn and her sister, Priscilla, receive the unbearable news that their uncle has died. The two sisters set out for the city of Varanasi with a tour guide to meet up with their traveling parents. Early on in their trip the girls are separated from their guide, setting them off on a journey through the jungle and into hidden villages of India. While the girls try to find their parents, they learn to follow their intuition and navigate with their third eye. From the colorful Holi festival to the funeral ceremonies along the Ghats of Varanasi, the girls make many unexpected friends along their adventure that help them to see the universal connection we all have to life and death.
The Squircle Wish Banners were modeled after the Tibetan Prayer Flags which, traditionally come in sets of five colors representing the five elements, which are said to produce health and harmony. Like the Prayer Flags, the book Squircle has five animal messengers who share an idea with Evie, the main character in the book. Using all five of these ideas, Evey experienced harmony and understanding.
The Prayer Flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom, and when blown by the wind, they are thought to spread compassion into the world, bringing a benefit to all. The Squircle Wish Banners were created to provide a similar benefit. Each student created her/his banner with a good intention or pledge in mind. S/he selected the colors that represented people in her/his immediate circle of family and friends.
Thread is a main symbol, which represents connection in the story Squircle. It also serves a purpose in the creation of the artwork, connecting together the fabric that was chosen and cut by the students. When displayed, the good intentions and pledges set by the students when they were created their banners, convalesce together creating a powerful energy that benefits all. It also serves as a visual reminder that we are all part of the Squircle.
Here is a video of the gallery exhibition, Threads That Connect: Fiber Art & Community, which features the artwork from Squircle.
I submitted an entry for the Tommie dePaloa contest through the SCBWI. They have a great blog with all of the entries. I really enjoyed being part of this contest, as it gave me an opportunity to see a large amount of artwork from some very talented artists. I really like the winning piece done by Sandra Ure Griffin. In fact, it was one of my favorite pieces.
I submitted this piece for the book, Little Women.