By LIBBY CLUETT
Mineral Wells ISD trustees heard from Travis Elementary sixth-grade art students Brittany Swindle and Karissa Smith about an innovative art project, adorning the outside of the school walls with kid-sized, clear-tape sculptures.
Art teachers Debra Strandberg and Skipper Bennett again undertook a large-scale outdoor sculpture project; some may recall the horse sculptures students made about four years ago of branches, inspired by artist Deborah Butterfield.
Travis students know art is not just painting. In fact, as students explained to the school board, the medium can be a roll of clear packing tape.
For this project, the inspiration was artist Mark Jenkins. His packing-tape sculpture installation include animals and small children hanging or growing from trees, hanging onto sculptures and in various whimsical poses in cities.
To make the sculptures, students worked together to photograph each other in the poses they wanted for their sculpture. Then they transferred their poses onto large cardboard cutouts that would serve as the armature for their sculpture.
They made their forms have depth by separating two cardboard cutouts with plastic drink cups. Once they had the form, students wrapped packing tape, sticky side out, around the entire shape. The following layers had the sticky side facing inward and created the shell.
Students cut the sides of their sculpture and pulled out the cardboard and cups. They then reapplied packing tape to seal the slits and the sculpture was complete.
Today, the Travis art students' sculptures are installed on the outside walls, connected with wire and masonry nails. Students and the community are encouraged to see the see-through works, which change their appearance at different times of the day and in varying light.
But that wasn't all the art teachers and students had to report. Art is big at Travis, and to show the district, the school installed a special display in the District Services Center board room to showcase up to 14 changing artworks by students.
In other business at Tuesday's board meeting:
• Trustees approved the 2013-14 school year calendar. Classes will begin Aug. 26 and conclude June 5, possibly earlier if no weather days are used. Next year's graduation will take place on June 6, 2014.
• Recognized as its February Partners in Education: the American Legion Auxiliary, the Mineral Wells High School Class of 1960 and the Carl E. Kessler Family Foundation.
• Superintendent Gail Haterius reported attendance is “holding steady.” She said January attendance was at 94.49 percent of the district's 3,432 students. The district's refined average daily attendance for January was 3,148 students.
• Haterius also informed trustees that MWHS was offering two dual-credit courses through Weatherford College – Biology 1411 (lab) and English 1302.
• The district will have to apply to the Texas Education Agency for a general waiver for classroom size. Haterius told trustees the first-grade bilingual classroom was exceeding the ration of 22 students to one teacher. She said this is the fourth such waiver MWISD has applied for this school year.