Poplar Highschool was one of my favorite sites along the tour so far. The entire school, from staff to students, were very gracious and welcoming. During passing periods, students stopped by the exhibit to chat about their own artwork, pieces they liked, or to share stories of an artist in the family. Many students had a strong connection to the arts because the influence of traditional Native American crafts and art is a huge underpinning to their cultural heritage. In fact, at the time of my visit, student's were working on beading projects and were very interested in talking about Stoney Sasser's UnNamed bead sculptures.
We also had a guest artist stop by to present her work, Cathryn Sugg, Praire Fire. Sugg shared her two bodies of work, one considered regional and the other a non-traditional format. Students were very interested in hearing her painting process and were impressed by her rendering skills.
I had the privileged of watching a pep rally for the cross country team as they were about to head out for a race- a few students raced each other drinking out of baby bottles!
- "This man is Wovoka who was the creator of the Ghost Dance. That is why he is painted in black and white because he is a ghostman, dead without color. But he feels angry and that is the red color bubbling up behind him.”
- “The man is black and white because he is a part of ancient history, like a black and white photograph, and he hasn’t stepped into the current times represented by the red and orange background.”
On Stephanie Frostad's drawing, Two Brothers / One Fence:
- All students saw the difference between the two deer right away and were able to interpret the change in value as one deer being stronger, more alive than the other. One young lady in Poplar had an extremely touching connection....the month prior, her sister had passed away and the drawing of brothers represented her feelings of wanting to talk to her sister, but unable to because she was fading away....so powerful!
The next day, I returned to build lookout towers with the students and their teacher Tara Zumbren. Ms. Zumbren just moved to Poplar and was already making a huge impact on her student's lives. Her classroom was a place students could come and laugh, express themselves, and tune out the world. Her mural class had several colorful, large murals started in the walls around the room and she was getting ready to start using the pottery wheels. Our day constructing lookout towers was so much fun! Each student had their own unique vision and were such hard workers; my only regret is that I wasn't able to stay and see their finished works!
To say I felt nervous about giving middle schoolers free reign with hot glue guns and wooden skewers is an understatement. However, the Poplar middle school students rose above and beyond Ms. Hinojosa and I's expectations for maturity. It was a pleasure working with these students building our dream towers to the sky. Their only restrictions were no teepees or 4 sided homes with triangle roofs- these towers had to use unconventional architecture; after all, they were meant for dreams.
- “This is a trophy to me because it is silver with red fire coming out on top like the Olympic torch. Only this one has feathers below so maybe it is for Native Games.”
- “I think it is a heart or an empty body with the breath coming out the top like flames and the headdress fell to the ground.”