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North Syracuse third-, ninth-graders collaborate on art and literacy project

Ninth-grader Jenna Ponto and third-grader Hannah Boyle collaborated on this drawing as part of a project between North Syracuse Junior High School and Allen Road Elementary. The works are on display at NOPL @ Cicero.

Ninth-grader Jenna Ponto and third-grader Hannah Boyle collaborated on this drawing as part of a project between North Syracuse Junior High School and Allen Road Elementary. The works are on display at NOPL @ Cicero.

— Students in Kara Cook’s ninth grade Studio Art classes at North Syracuse Junior High School have teamed up with Jill Welsh’s third-graders at Allen Road Elementary for a creative experience now on display at NOPL @ Cicero.

The project, inspired by the work of contemporary artist Mica Angela Hendricks, combines the realistic artwork of the ninth-graders with the childlike creativity of the younger children.

The collaboration began when Welsh saw a post on a friend’s Facebook page about a project Hendricks, an illustrator and graphic artist, had done with her 4-year-old daughter Myla. In a post on her blog, Hendricks shared that she had sketched heads from vintage black-and-white movie stills, then allowed Myla to draw bodies for them. Hendricks then revisited the drawings, adding color, texture and highlights.

“I shared the link with Kara, knowing she was an art teacher of older students and said, ‘Let’s do this with our students,’” Welsh said. “She replied right away, set up a time to meet at her house to go over details of what we wanted the finished project to look like, and we started.”

First, Cook wanted to try it out for herself, so she tested Hendricks’ method with her own guinea pigs: her sons, Landon, 6, and Parker, 4.

“I drew some portraits from vintage photos and let my two boys draw the bodies, like Mica Angela Hendricks,” Cook said. “I then experimented with adding color with pastels and the drawing came to life. I knew we had to do this as a lesson.”

The Studio Art students first drew realistically shaded portraits to start their composition.

“This project fit nicely with our Figure Drawing Unit,” Cook said. “Students have just completed activities of learning proportions of the human body and portraiture. The students explored blending with the drawing pencils, and also focused on having successful value when blending.”

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