puppets and sets of painted cardboard & cloth
performed at Smith Middle School
For the 2009 Artists@Work residency at Smith Middle School, the students of Ms. Valentine’s 7th and 8th grade art classes created story character puppets under the guidance of puppet master Donovan Zimmerman and then put on a performance entitled Trickster Tales.
The residency began at the end of November, when the students were introduced to the stories and a variety of puppets including hand-held, rod, cutout, and even giant head puppets through a documentary about Paperhand Puppet Intervention. Next, students learned about character interpretation, storyboarding, and fashioning their characters from materials such as cardboard, tape, cloth, paint and found objects to add movement and dimensionality. The students developed a script based on the stories and with Mr. Zimmerman’s assistance, staged and acted out a number of the stories.
"This has been such an amazing opportunity and Donovan Zimmerman is a wonderful teacher! I love that the students are able to use so many of their skills – designing, drawing, sculpting, and painting – and then in the end turn their visions into these magical little puppets that they get to bring to life," exclaimed art teacher Melissa Valentine.
The art teacher and volunteers from the Public Arts Commission worked in concert with Zimmerman as the students build their colorful puppets over the course of the residency. While watching the students crafting their puppets Zimmerman remarked, “I love how the kids bring their own innovations to both the stories and their puppet characters. They surprise me every time.” The lessons taught in each of the classes go beyond encouraging artistic creativity to involving skills such problem solving, sequencing, creative writing, math, and teamwork while learning about world cultures. The Trickster Tales performance occurred on Saturday, December 12, 2009 for an audience of the students’ families, the public, and the media.