Creative Interactions

“I see a dress!”
“I see an upside down hook!”
“I see horns!”
A group of sixth graders exclaim as they stand before Scarlatti – the enormous, kinetic, steel sculpture of monumental beauty at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park (“Meijer Gardens”).

It’s a cold, wet day in early October with just a whisper of a breeze moving the autumn hued leaves of the trees, but nobody notices. Instead, the lush unfamiliar surroundings of the Meijer Gardens capture the attention of each 4th grade student from Dickinson Academy as they make a more than one mile-long trek through the Sculpture Park of

Students from Dickinson Academy discover Henry Moore’s Bronze Form.

the Gardens. The Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation and the Meijer Gardens partner to provide an enrichment trip to the Meijer Gardens to every fourth and sixth grade student in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Stationed at notable sculptures throughout the gardens, Gardens’ volunteers greet the young scholars as they wind their way through the park. Pausing along the way, students soak in the knowledge of Gardens’ volunteers and
learn to appreciate the many sculptures posed throughout.

What do you see? How do the pieces make you feel? What is the artist trying to tell us?

As students contemplate the silent, extraordinary sculptures, Gardens’ volunteers encourage interactive discussions, critiquing the many shapes, scales and mediums used. Every student is encouraged to participate, to move around and view the beautiful art from different angles and different viewpoints.

The influence art has on student’s life is immeasurable.

Students appreciate the grandeur of Alexander Liberman’s Aria

Arts education teaches students critical life skills. It is meant to inspire and to connect; to bring out a sense of admiration and respect for the pieces in which one views. Artists create from their imagination, using their hands to create a story to move deep within the observer. With sculpture, their 3D presence poses a different perspective in which to view, helping students to understand and articulate quantitative relationships and to explore understanding through multi-media.

The students of Dickinson Academy experienced this and so much more. By the end of their visit, the young scholars were excitedly sharing their observations and debating the merits of each different piece of artwork and their favorite parts of the day.

Through its general fund grants, the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation supports arts enrichment trips for students in first through sixth grades, including the trip to the Meijer Gardens. This vital program is made possible through the generosity of donor dollars, because recognizing the beauty of art in a creative and interactive way, provides GRPS students with a new level of meaningful learning.

For more information on how you can help make sure programs like this are available for GRPS students, click here!

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