The Calder Tree

Posted by Rebecca Moore - 29 November, 2018

tinsel trail 2018Every year, Randolph's Lower School students create the decorations for a tree in Downtown Huntsville's Tinsel Trail. In recent years, the tree has been themed around the work of an artist they study.

This year's Tinsel Trail tree celebrates the work of sculptor Alexander Calder. We asked Lower School Art Teacher David Howse to tell us about this artist and his appeal to the students.

Tinsel Trail - 9405711As Mr. Howse tells his Lower School Art students,"The artists we study have generally become famous for one of two reasons, either because they do what they do very well or they have come up with a new idea. People have been making sculpture for tens of thousands of years, but it was all static and stabile. Alexander Calder made sculpture kinetic. Adding movement revolutionized what sculpture could be."

"What if I could do this?" 

"Try it and see."

It is this urge to try out an idea, to pursue the "what if," that Mr. Howse wants to instill in his students. It's a question they often ask when they are exploring a new technique or materials. "What if I could do this?" His response: "Try it and see."

Tinsel Trail - 9410261Mr. Howse shared a video of Calder's wire circus with his students. Working with wire was a challenge for most students, but they loved it. The 2nd and 3rd graders made wire fish for the tree and the 4th graders are now working on portraits. Mary Jones is doing wire work with her Middle School students. 

Every grade K-4 is involved with decorating the tree. Kindergarten students painted the free-form wood pieces while the older students painted the letters and created the wire fish.

Last year's tree featured the work of Gustav Klimt, and afterwards, students continued another school tradition by painting one of the art room chairs in the manner of his work. Understanding the work and styles of notable artists is an integral part of an art education at Randolph. Later this year, students will paint a Calder chair.

Tinsel Trail trees will on display at Big Spring Park until January 5. 


Topics: art, traditions, Holidays, Student-centered

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