ILES Artist In Residence Update

ILES Artist in Residence Update
Posted on 05/06/2021
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Artist in ResidenceArtist in ResidenceArtist in Residence
After a year’s hiatus, the Indian Lake Elementary School Artist in Residence is back to school to complete her assignment. 

Polymer clay artist Melissa Terlizzi is spending a few days working with ILES Art Teacher Terry Nelson and several students. They are putting the final touches on the ILES Wetland Alphabet Project that began during the 2019-20 school year with financial assistance from an Ohio Arts Council grant. 

More than two dozen highly detailed works of art were about 75-percent complete in March of 2020, when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered schools closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At that time, Terlizzi took all the different components of the extensive polymer clay project home to Virginia to assemble and bake. Now she is back to work with small groups of ILES students in each grade level to finish the job. 

Terlizzi said, “Some of the older kids just knock it out of the park, they are really talented and super dedicated to it. We had a boy here this morning looking up on the internet to make sure he has his spots right on his newt. They are very good at this and it’s a really nice mix of science and art.”

The ILES Wetland Alphabet Project is the dream of art teacher Terry Nelson. For many years she wanted to create a cross-curricular art project that would celebrate the many plants and animals living in the wetland just behind ILES—which you can see from the art room windows. In the early stages of the project, students in their science classes researched the reptiles, mammals, birds, berries, trees, insects and more that make the on-campus ecosystem their home. In addition, gifted language art students used alliteration techniques to write about the creatures. In art class, they tied the lessons together as each grade level used polymer clay to create the creatures and plant-life in 3-D as their own art projects. Finally, Nelson and Terlizzi chose some special students to assist in shaping the alphabet letters that will make up the signature art installation. 

Nelson explains, “We couldn’t have the whole class work on the alphabet letters, but we had our best artists, our art honors students, work on the alphabet. They all had a little part of each letter designated for them to help make and we’re catching up on all that now.”

Terlizzi adds, “So we have roughly ten letters completely done and then there might be a bug or two to add, but we still have heaps and heaps to do!”

When complete, the ILES Wetland Alphabet wall will be displayed just outside the art room. It will consist of 26 panels, each with a letter of the alphabet decorated with polymer clay flora and fauna of the same letter. For example, the letter E features an eagle, earthworms, elderberries and elm leaves. In addition, each letter panel will be photographed and digitized to become a page in the “ILES Wetland Alphabet Book” that Indian Lake High School graphic design students help create. 

Nelson hopes to be able to hold a reveal party open house for the public to debut the art installation, tour the wetland and receive a copy of the book. The target timeline is the fall of 2021. Terlizzi plans to return to Ohio once again for the final event.