Elementary students learn about Louisiana artist George Rodrigue

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2019

Nicholson Elementary School students got to see original Blue Dog paintings up close Thursday as part of the school’s effort to celebrate science, engineering, technology, art and math.

Once a year the staff at the school hold a STEAM Day and bring in guest speakers from around the state and beyond, said Librarian Michelle Carter.

Representatives from Mississippi Power offered a lesson on the dangers of electrical lines and the science of electric currents.

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Sabrina Cummings, a conservation biologist from the Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, focused on the importance of conservation and the powerful role kids can play in conservation efforts. She also brought along animal pelts and skulls for the kids to examine. Freedom Ranch taught kids about birds of prey.

Then, of course, there was the art part of STEAM Day. Wendy Rodrigue, widow of Louisiana artist George Rodrigue, toured the school, and then gave students a presentation on her late husband’s life and artwork. Maureen Pollitz, a second through sixth grade gifted teacher, invited Rodrigue to speak at the school after taking some of her students on a field trip to a Blue Dog exhibit in Biloxi, Carter said.

In preparation for Rodrigue’s visit, all of the school��s kindergarten through sixth grade students created their own blue dog inspired art, Carter said.

The school gave every student a 5×7 canvas to create a background for their interpretation of the blue dog, Carter said. Then the school’s Girls Who Code club brought a blue dog stamp to every classroom, and the kids were able to decide how to incorporate the stamp of the dog into their artwork, Carter said.

The school often holds school-wide art projects, Carter said, in an effort to engage with visual learners.

The third graders learned about the aspects of foreground, middle ground and background when they created their artwork, Pollitz said. While the students learned about the life and work of George Rodrigue they made their own art, Carter said.

Rodrigue told students about her husband’s small town upbringing in New Iberia, La. and said he would’ve loved their art.