Snow Day Creativity
Brigida Swanson
By Brigida Swanson
Middle School Art Teacher
February 28, 2019
Forest Ridge’s middle school fine arts program used Seattle's recent snow days as opportunities for digital communication and creative art education outdoors. Middle school Studio Art classes received a design challenge to create art using snow and other natural materials. Students first gained inspiration by looking at artist examples including the work of snow artist Simon Beck and sculptures at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival.  
The general guidelines for the nature art challenge were to create a snow sculpture or flat artwork using natural materials that considered:
  • Design, including pattern, rhythm, line use, form, and shape;
  • Composition, such as leading lines, symmetry or other compositional strategies to place the artwork for the best effect;
  • Transformation of materials, or how students elevated natural materials into something new; and
  • Innovation, or how students were creative about the use of nature in their artworks beyond cliché snowmen, igloos and snow angels.  
Middle school art students did an amazing job of using their creativity and innovation skills to make sculptures that were meaningful and thoughtful. Artworks included a range of ideas from colorful mandalas, to a sculpture of Machu Picchu, a snow castle, the Garden of Eden and a variety of animals. Students also wrote artist statements to reflect on what inspired their artwork, what their intentions were in creating the design, and the process they used to construct it. One student described her work, saying, "I was looking at the snow mandala pictures you sent us for inspiration. I was curious about how I could make something that our backyard birds could enjoy and still be beautiful."  
The diversity of approaches and use of design elements showed just how ambitious and creative middle school students could be when given an opportunity to work with unconventional materials like snow, ice and objects from nature.
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