The walls of Oysterpond Elementary School in Orient are covered in seaweed — well, paintings of the algae, anyway.
Resin, pastel and chalk paintings created by 18 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade were on display Tuesday evening in Oysterpond’s main lobby for its “Seaweed Galore” art exhibition, which is part of the school’s new Artist in Residence program.
“It turned out beautifully,” said school principal Francoise Wittenburg of the initiative. “We really like to enrich arts in the kids and they love it.”
Last winter, school administrators reached out to Frieda Dean, the resident artist at the William Steeple Studio in Orient, and asked her if she’d conduct some after-school workshops with interested students. The Augusta, Ga. native agreed enthusiastically to volunteer her time and helped the children create underwater-themed seaweed paintings during three Friday sessions.
“I brought in fresh seaweed for [the students] to hold if they didn’t remember what it felt like,” said Ms. Dean, who taught elementary school art in Augusta. She also brought in scarves to perform “seaweed dances” with the younger children, who she said finished their projects quickly.
“It was fun to see their responses to the different aspects of seaweed,” she said. “I really love the kids.”
Students who participated in the project were equally pleased with the results.
“It was really fun,” said Nico Wittenburg, 10, a fifth grade student who is also Principal Wittenburg’s son. “I liked when we used pastels. We had freedom to use any color we wanted to.”
“We were supposed to have seaweed in motion, so I drew it coming out of different places, like a life jacket and a chest with bubbles,” sixth grader Addison Terry, 11, said. “It was a great experience. Even though I knew a little about art, Ms. Frieda Dean inspired me to learn more.”
“I wanted to give something back to the community,” Ms. Dean said. “The students are so full of creativity and energy. They’re really a joy to work with.”
Community members can view the “Seaweed Galore” art exhibition through June 31 in the main lobby of Oysterponds Elementary School.