Casselberry Sculpture House to feature art exhibit from Walden Community School students

Walden Community School art teacher Astrid Magana with one of the student art projects on display at the Casselberry Sculpture House. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | A new art exhibition is coming to the Casselberry Sculpture House this month, but these sculptures are a little bit different — they are all made of trash.

Students at Walden Community School had the opportunity to put together the exhibition for the sculpture house, which will open with a reception April 12 from 6-8 p.m. and will be on display for a month.

The school decided to make the unconventional move to put their entire exhibition together with trash to celebrate April being Earth Month and teach the students about recycling and reducing waste.

Walden is a small, progressive private school in Winter Park that focuses on promoting equity, respecting diversity, democracy and justice in the community. With only 35 students, an important part of Walden’s curriculum is focusing on student’s individuality and self-expression.

“I think diversity and inclusion is something that we take very serious in every subject and any area,” says Astrid Magana, Warden’s art teacher and the person who has been leading the student’s on this art journey. “We always praise the kids for being themselves.”

Magana says that getting the chance to show the students’ art at the sculpture house came as a surprise. Walden frequently brings in guest speakers to talk to students about various subjects and when trying to find a speaker to talk about art, the Casselberry Art House offered the school an even better opportunity, a chance for the kids art to be displayed in an actual gallery.

“I was like really, really excited,” says Magana. “I think it’s a really cool experience for them. It’s one thing to have it at the school and then the parents come, but it’s another thing to have it open to the public and at a place where any other artist can be shown.”

With the opportunity to show their art in a real gallery, Magana says that it was important for the students to bring a piece of themselves into the art.

“With art it’s really easy to relate that, because the way I teach them art is about expressing themselves,” says Magana. “They really feel proud of showing their uniqueness.”

Inspired by a mushroom growing science experiment conducted earlier at the school, the students came up with the idea to incorporate mushrooms into the exhibition and settled on a fairyland theme.

Magana says that the kindergarten through second grade students made mushrooms out of painted coke bottles filled with sand and tops made from snack wrappers.

Third through fifth grade students created a fairy queen to be among the mushrooms. Building a dress using trash bags for the skirt, dry leaves for the top, stapled wrappers around for the train of the dress and made her head and crown out of paper mâché.

The older students chose to put together individual sculptures.

“They went into the art room where we had all this trash and they picked a piece that inspired them,” Magana says. “The armature of the sculpture is all trash. Then they used paper mâché and paint, so it looks really pretty, but inside its all trash.”

To supply the trash for the project, students brought in wrappers, trash bags and recyclables from home, as well as saved trash from lunch and snacks at school.

“We have another piece that we called Eternal Beauty, and almost all of the kids made flowers out of plastic bottles. We cut it in three pieces and then we assembled them on a frame,” Magana says. “We call it Eternal Beauty because those flowers, since they’re made out of plastic, will take forever to decompose.”

Magana says that doing the project out of trash was helpful in teaching the students several important lessons.

“It was obvious for them to see how much we consume and how much of it is plastic,” says Magana. “I think it was just the idea of awakening them to saying, ‘We are all doing this, if we’re all taking part of it we can also make a difference.’”

Magana estimates that around four large trash bags worth of trash were used for the entire exhibition. Because of this, she stressed that it takes reducing waste to make a difference, even more than reusing the trash.

“It was fun but also I feel like there was some sadness attached to it, because it made us realize how much we are just polluting and destroying our planet,” says Magana. “They were like, ‘we can make something to save our Earth,’ and it’s true. If we can make this beautiful, then we can make so many other differences in the world.”

The Walden School’s Art Exhibition opens at The Casselberry Sculpture House, located at 120 Quail Pond Circle in Casselberry, on April 12 and will be on display through the month. The opening reception is free and open to the public from 6-8 p.m.

Additional reporting and photos by Jeremy Williams.

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