By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — After more than a decade, retiring art teacher Sandy Bruce has finally run out of wall space at Liberty Valley Intermediate School. That’s why her students’ final piece will be on the ceiling.
Bruce, who has been with the school district since 1987, has spent her last eleven years organizing legacy projects for Liberty Valley’s outgoing fifth-grade classes. These projects stay within the school to beautify it and as a memento of that class. This year’s project, Bruce’s final for the school, consisted of painting concentric circles on the art room’s ceiling tiles.
Eighteen squares were painted on each ceiling tile, with each student painting nine squares. In total, 96 tiles were painted, 191 by the fifth-grade class and one by Bruce. The students started the project at the beginning of March and painted the tiles after they were temporarily removed from the ceiling. “The fifth-grade class and I consider it our legacy,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve contributed to a legacy project.”
Previous legacy projects have included creating stained glass windows and outdoor sculptures. “I carefully choose a project I know all kids can do, regardless of capability or limitation,” said Bruce.
The entire purpose of the legacy project is “to show children they can leave their mark in life, to be appreciated by others, and its something they can be proud of,” she said. “I’m so grateful the administration recognizes the importance of the art and has supported me in every legacy project. For that, I’m thankful.”
The latest project was inspired by the works of Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky. “He’s one of my favorites,” said Bruce. Like many of Bruce’s favorite artists, Kandinsky came to art later in life after exploring an earlier profession. In Kandinsky’s case, he started as a psychologist. “He had a fascination with shape and color,” said Bruce.
The message Bruce wants to impart on her students is that everybody has the capacity to be an artist. “Kids say to me, ‘When I grow up, I want to be an artist.’ I look at them and say, ‘Honey, you’re already an artist, just grow up.’”
The tiles won’t be the only work Bruce and the fifth-graders leaves behind, though. Using about 3,000 marker caps, the fifth-grade students are creating a picture made by gluing the differently colored marker caps to poster board. Placed together, the caps create a design containing a rainbow, a paintbrush, a colored wheel and the phrase “All Kids Create.”
This project, which began in April, was designed to show the students that a cooperative piece of art can be just as rewarding as a solo piece, said Bruce. The kids created the design all on their own, she said, so they could feel they had ownership of the project.
Bruce plans to hang the composition in the art room.
Bruce hopes whomever her replacement is will continue offering legacy projects for future classes. “It’s such an inspiration for children coming up the ranks,” she said. “I’ll miss it.”
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