Students "Address the Earth" through Art

photo from Sauk Valley News
Reagan Middle School students gather around an etched copper panel that will be put on display in the school. Each plaque was designed and etched by the student through the help of local artist Mike Mcnamara and teacher Debbie Thompson. (Alex T. Paschal/photo)

My two friends were in the paper again with their work with students and art-- Debbie Thompson and Mike McNamara! The unveiling of the copper piece was yesterday, Friday at Reagan Middle School in Dixon.

Since Jack (my boss) and I had a prior business commitment at the same time in another town, I wasn't able to personally attend the unveiling ceremony. Luckily, we were able to stop by Debbie's classroom earlier to take a sneak peak and to take some close-up pics of the individual pieces (those will be published later). She had it hidden from the kids by putting in her classroom bathroom. She rushed me into the john (so I can take a few pictures) because she didn't want the kids to see the assembled piece until the unveiling.

Read below the newspaper's account of the event.

DIXON -- It's earth-friendly artwork made from scratch, and on recyclable material to boot.

"Students Address the Earth" features more than 120 3-by-5-inch copper sheets, each with an eco-themed etching done by a student.

Reagan Middle School art teacher Debbie Thompson held an unveiling ceremony Friday for the 100-pound piece, which will be displayed near the school's cafeteria entrance.

Students used permanent marker to make a drawing on the sheet, and guest artist/sculptor Michael McNamara of Dixon dipped the pieces in ferric chloride, which eroded part of the copper, leaving the hand-drawn designs slightly raised.

Images of pandas, hands and stars dot the copper landscape, forming a shiny metal patchwork.

Fifth-grader Jessie Scheck, 11, drew mountains, trees and grass on his copper piece. He said he had never worked with the material before, and that it was a lot of fun.

The project was part of Thompson's yearly guest artist program for her fifth- and sixth-grade art students. Most of the materials and McNamara's expertise were paid for with a grant from a private foundation.

"We wanted to do a group project with students dealing with the environment, to teach them what their part might be in recycling," McNamara said.

Kreider Services staff also gave a presentation on its recycling facility.

Kreider trains disabled adults and teaches them job skills.

Jul Adams-Watkins, the nonprofit's public relations coordinator, explained how they collect recyclable materials from local businesses, which they process and sell.

"It's not just a commercial situation," Adams-Watkins said. Recycling "is a personal decision."

Reach Malinda Osborne at 815-625-3600 or 800-798-4085, ext. 526.