Art Education: Sculpture Garden, an Outdoor Classroom



Sculpture garden

THE SPACE

When I started at my new, fancy, private school, I was amazed at the classroom I was given. I had so much space, it was fully stocked, and it was set up to specifically serve as a sculpture classroom. It was practically perfect. I even had double doors leading outside, to a walled-in patio space. Now I even had an outdoor workspace. But I had dreams of a sculpture garden.

While my classroom was well put together, the patio space was a blank slate. There was nothing but a concrete slab and a beautiful brick wall enclosing it. For a year I sat at my desk, stared out the double doors, and saw a space going to waste.

At the beginning of my second year, I decided it was time to spruce it up. I put in a few wish list items to our school’s arts alliance and was granted enough money to make the space useful and more aesthetically pleasing. Two planters, one round planter, and two picnic tables were purchased for the space. I am blessed to have a landscape architect husband who helped me fill the planters with interesting flowers, wonderfully smelling herbs, and interesting foliage to look at and touch.

Sculpture garden plants

When everything was put together I was excited at the transformation, but I quickly realized it wasn’t enough. Walls still stood empty, space was being wasted. The next year I added even more. I purchased two more large planters, 4 round planters, a storage shed, a storage box, and succulents to add as centerpieces to my picnic tables. Once again Nick came to my rescue and helped me select the many plants necessary to fill up my planters.

Sculpture garden picnic tables

I couldn’t believe how beautiful the space was becoming. The piles of straw for my raku firings were hidden away, my propane and acetylene tanks and a protected space to live, and my planters could barely contain my plants. My watering system was working well, automatically watering every three days, causing growth spurts in everything I planted.

The final touch I added to the space was four sets of three slip-casted tiles. These beautiful pieces sat unglazed and abandoned in my storage closet for years. Once I added bright coats of glaze and fired them, they were the perfect addition to the walls of my sculpture garden.

I love seeing my students working out there. This forgotten space has finally reached its potential and is being put to good use. I can’t wait to continue to add student-made sculptures to the space and continue to grow my beautiful sculpture garden. Check out my first blog post about transforming this space here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help me spread the word by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you. Check out more blog posts here. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for weekly visual journal demos. Until next time!

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