Al Zagofsky | May 5, 2012 | Times News
Seventy Panther Valley students completed a 10-session workshop where elementary, middle and senior high school students teamed collaboratively under the guidance of a nationally-recognized artist-in-residence to create, design and publish a graphic alphabet book.
For the second year, Allentown Art Museum Arts and Education Manager Kathy Odorizzi has sponsored, Panther Valley High School art teacher Kimberlee Burkett has organized, and nationally-recognized illustrator and painter, Victor Stabin of Jim Thorpe has served as artist-in-residence in the Daedal Doodle project.
Daedal Doodle is both the name of Stabin's own graphic alphabet book that has been selling in his own studio and offered to art museums, and also an educational approach that marries the fine arts of writing and drawing into a creative whole that is ultimately published as an illustrated book.
Daedal Doodle is formed of two words, Stabin explained. "Daedal is from Daedalus, the inventor and artist who made wings out of wax that allowed his son, Icarus, to fly near to the sun. A Doodle is an aimless drawing." With the Daedal Doodle workshop, Stabin metaphorically encourages his student's doodling to fly closer to the sun.
"What we do is simple and elegant," Stabin explained. "The students read the dictionary, look up the words, lend themselves to ideas, draw and write."
Assigned the letter "K", 11th grader Katelyn Evans selected for her alliteration the words: kempt – meaning neat, and karakul – an Asian sheep.
"I drew a sheep in a bathtub," Evans said. "I drew him in the bathtub whistling. He likes cleaning himself. He has obsessive compulsive disorder."
Stabin helped her develop the illustration by placing an overlay of transparency paper and sketching alternatives for representing the musical notes.
Judy Lin, an 11th grade student assigned the letter "Q" selected four alliterative words: quaint – meaning unusual, querulous – meaning complaining, quidnunc - meaning a busybody, and quoll - meaning a marsupial. Her illustration is of the screaming complaining face of a rat-like reporter wearing a press-credentialed hat and carrying a pen and pad.
After the high school students begin their drawings, the middle school student began composing a decorative font of the assigned letter, and the elementary student begins writing a story based on the drawing. Ultimately, the three elements are to be combined into the final presentation.
"The teachers said that the student's creativity is over-the-top," Stabin noted. "They are overwhelmed as the kids embrace the concept of working with these funny alliteration's and watching where they are going."
"The art projects reinforce reading," said organizer Kimberlee Burkett. "It gets the students to use the dictionary and learn new words."
"The words they selected aren't familiar to them," Kerry Uhern an English teacher at PVHS. "That's a challenge that they have to work with-taking the words and making a story from these words that are not commonly used. Putting that together with the image and putting it into a one-page story is unique."
"Another part of the challenge is the idea of a mentorship program between a high school student, a middle school student come in an elementary school student," said Jennifer Jones, a PVHS English teacher. "It's teaching the high school students a little bit about what it's like to be a teacher."
"The Allentown Art Museum is happy to help bring this arts-integrated learning experience to the students of the Panther Valley School District," said Kathy Odorizzi of the Allentown Art Museum. "The collaborative efforts of the teachers, administration, and artist Victor Stabin has been amazing. The high quality of the artwork and short stories created by the students are testament to the dedication of all involved. The museum is looking forward to working with the district on future projects such as this."
The project was supported by the Panther Valley School District, and made possible through the Arts In Education Partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. It is funded by the citizens of Pennsylvania through annual legislative appropriation, and administered locally by the Allentown Art Museum.
The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.