I am always on the lookout for new ways to
inspire my students, especially with local examples of art. One amazing new
addition, now in its third year, in my community is Sculpture Tour Eau Claire.
The non-profit organization has created a free outdoor sculpture exhibit that is
on display year-round in the city.
This year the exhibit features 31 sculptures, all
of which are owned by the artists and on a year-long loan to Sculpture Tour Eau
Claire. Each May, a new set of sculptures will arrive to be displayed. The
artists reside as far away as Florence, Italy, but the tour has also included
local Eau Claire artists as well. There are three Eau Claire locations where you
can see these sculptures, all of them located near the downtown vicinity. This year’s tour includes the Water
Street area, which is near the UW-Eau Claire campus and frequented by many
college students. One of the Water Street sculptures reaches 13 feet into the
air. For more information on the sculptures featured in Sculpture Tour Eau
Claire you can visit the website:
In addition to the fact that Sculpture Tour Eau
Claire offers the residents a chance to see amazing sculptures within the city,
the community also gets to vote on their favorite sculpture. After the voting
closes, the sculpture with the most votes is purchased and put on permanent
display somewhere in the city. Art collectors and community members have also
helped to purchase more than 12 sculptures over the past two years. Some of the
sculptures have even been donated to local nonprofit groups such as the YMCA and
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.
During my time as a student teacher, I was
fortunate enough to be placed in an elementary school that was within walking
distance to one of the three sculpture tour locations. I couldn’t pass up the
opportunity to take my students to see art that was practically in their
backyard. I developed a lesson on digital photography and the sculptures were
our subject matter.
On a beautiful fall day, with my cooperating
teacher and aids, I walked 45 fourth grade students downtown to take pictures of
the sculptures. Divided into smaller groups, we had the opportunity to see,
touch, and vote on the art. We spent time discussing the materials used in each
sculpture, how they were created, and photographing the sculptures.
The majority of my students had never been to an
art museum; they were very curious and interactive with the art. More than
anything, I simply enjoyed watching them run their fingers over the smooth cold
marbled torso, sit next to the bronze girl on a bench, and high five the
larger-than-life sized dog. Oh, and their photographs turned out amazing, too.