Megan Pendleton, MS Art Teacher, is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, and joined AAS this year after living in Seoul, South Korea, where, she says, ‘recycling was a huge deal.’
Ms. Pendleton has brought her passion for recycling to her MS Art students, saying that recycled materials were a key component of the latest MS Art project, which was based around the work of Louise Nevelson, a recycled sculpture artist who worked in New York City in the 1930s and 40s.
‘The recycling at the back of my building in Seoul had over 18 options for distribution, including cooked and uncooked compost and we had to sort every piece of paper and glass. I’ve loved Moscow, but that was one of the major shockers, it hurts my heart to know all this is going into a landfill.’
‘Louise Nevelson would go trash to trash and pick up old pieces of wood to create gorgeous, huge sculptures taking up entire walls. The kids could see there were many different pieces, almost little worlds within a big world. As a result, I wanted them to understand how to use recycled materials, put them together, and how to create as part of a whole their individual little cosmos and create a work that they compiled as one, as a class,’ she says.
‘I also wanted them to understand that art can come from anywhere. Sometimes you can come up with things you would never dream of unless you had these recyclable materials.’
She says it was not hard inspiring students to create art with reused materials. ‘I keep a recycled sculpture shelf where there are all kinds of things I collect, and others bring me, that could be useful. In general, we were talking about the principles of art; we were talking about balance, symmetry, emphasis, movement, rhythm, and as a result they were able to use the shapes in their piece to abstractly understand how works of art are put together,’ she says.
‘The way they placed objects in the box determined whether it was a symmetrical or asymmetrical sculpture. They had to balance using their repeated shapes over and over, bottle caps for instance,’ she added.
Does she plan to use recycled materials again in future MS Art projects?
‘I’m a huge fan of recycling. It really hurts that I can’t do it personally here. What I do is bring in things from home – plastics, glass, aluminum – all my recycling from home is brought in here to be used or I distribute it to be used by other classrooms for other uses.’
‘We are about to launch our “fantastical beasts” project and students will again be using recycled materials as the basis of their sculptures. It’s something that seems to work hand-in-hand, automatically, in the MS Art Room. When you’re unsure how to put something together, using a massive water bottle or an aluminum can is a really great starting point.’
The MS Art project is currently exhibited in the MS hallway.