Imagination Running Wild: Animal Molas

School: St John the Evangelist 1st-4th grade students
Educating Artist: Andrea Skyberg

Students created Mola designs which were modeled after the Molas created by the Kuna Woman from Panama. Each student represented a known animal in their cut-paper Molas. They then created a silouetted imaginary animal, which was the main focus in the middle canvas. By seeing the features within the known animals and using what was already familiar to them, students were able to push the limits of their imagination to created new, dynamic animals that have never existed before.


Healing Machine: Metal etchings & assemblage sculpture

School: Whitman School
Educating Artist: Andrea Skyberg

Inspired by outsider artist, Emery Blagdon, the 1-6th graders created a Healing Machine out of aluminum, found metal, wire and beads.  Over the course of this project, students gained a greater understanding of helpful and healing emotions such as love, compassion, happiness and creativity.  Each student made a wish that would help manifest a more positive world. With that wish in mind, each child worked to create an image that could represent the essence of her/his wish.  That image was etched into aluminum with an added patina.  The students then attached wire and glass beads to each charm. Found metal was painted and altered and attached to the armature, along with tinfoil and strands of beads.  It is our hope that the Healing Machine will radiate positive energy, love and beauty.  

Who was Emery Blagdon?
Emery Blagdon was an self-taught artist, or what people in the art world would refer to as an outsider artist or visionary artist.  He lived on a farm in rural Nebraska and started creating Healing Machines in 1956.  He used his barn to construct large assemblages out of old wire, metal, tinfoil, ribbon, beads, magnets, and other found items. He believed that his Healing Machines generated an electromagnetic energy that could alleviate pain and prevent disease. After Blagdon died in 1986, the environment was acquired by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Giants & Pipsqueaks: Masking tape sculptures

Organization: Next Door Foundation: Leaders of Tomorrow
Educating Artist: Andrea Skyberg

The Leaders of Tomorrow (1st – 8th grade students) worked with me to create Pipsqueak characters out of masking tape and duct tape.  After they grew more confident with the materials, we brainstormed together to design a giant character and then sculpted and painted it.  This residency was done in conjunction with my children’s book, Snickeyfritz.



Wings & Roots: The Unity of Spirit in the Arctic

Project: Milwaukee County Zoo Fantastic Forest of Holiday Trees
School: Cooper Elementary Student Council
Educating Artist: Andrea Skyberg
Cooperating Teachers: Dawn Bigalk, Chris McCoy, Jackie Pollman
Funded by: Arts@Large

Inspired by the artwork of the Tlingit, Kwakiutl and Yup’ik tribes in the Pacific Northwest Coast, students created ornaments that incorporated land, air and sea creatures from the Arctic. Throughout these different cultures, animals play a large role in the mythology and the underlying elements in the day-to-day lives of the people.  There is a strong notion of unity between human and animal.

The felted animal pockets are modeled after the Inuit finger masks, used by female dancers to help attract the attention of the spirits.  Inside the felted ornament is an individual message of hope for the world, written by the student.
The etched tin and bead ornaments were modeled after the Tlingit graphic designs of animals.  The feathers, made of paper, tape and beads, were created with a message for the people of the world to model their behavior after a positive aspect from one of the arctic animals. The paper pulp ornaments depict the sea creatures of the arctic, such as the seal, whale and walrus.  The tree topper and tree skirt reference a wish for each person to be endued with wings for courage to fly away from the nest and try new things, while at the same time remain grounded with depth and fortitude by their roots.