Burpee inspiration for Roosevelt students

Students from Roosevelt Alternative High School have been engaged in a yearlong project that uses art to teach the scientific ideas behind human sustainability.

After an inspiring tour of the Burpee Natural History Museum, that group of students’ artistic spirit culminated with them creating a large scale mural and other smaller pieces. These works will be featured in a Kortman Gallery exhibit titled “Gray Areas,” opening Friday, June 2nd.

“Students with an interest in art and the ability to make deeper connections were chosen to tour the Burpee Museum and find issues related to Earth Science that they were most intrigued by,” says Kyle Wolfe, art instructor at Roosevelt.  

Inspired by Burpee’s Windows to Wilderness display, this group of young artists quickly began asking questions about how the environment could change if humans continue with the energy and environmental decisions they are currently making.

“Eager to express their ideas artistically, the students decided to work together to create a mural,” said art instructor Brian Hierstein.  “Each of the students contributed imagery in their own artistic style in black, white, and gray, resulting in a large, exciting cohesive artwork.”

Rockford artist Corey Hagberg came to Roosevelt to discuss his experiences as an artist and his time spent working with “En Masse,” a Canadian art collective, during projects in Chicago, Detroit and Florida.  He worked with the students to create a background that would enhance the visual narrative the students were trying to convey.

The students sketched and planned several images and then worked together to arrange these ideas into a large scale mural.

According to Wolfe, the work represents the students’ opinions on human sustainability and where they see the world going if we continue with current policies and ideas about climate change.

“We are thrilled to show the ‘Gray Areas’ exhibition in the Kortman Gallery allowing this talented group of young artists to share their artistic vision with the general public,” says gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “Four foot sections of the the large mural will be sold, along with other student works, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Burpee Natural History Museum”

Participating artists include: Sarahi Alvarado; Seion Barbor; Armon Conner; Javier Flores; Berenice Galvan; Yael Goriono; Ashley Haley; Anthony Hunter; Stefvon Kalepp; Jasmine Knuth; Shiann Kolff; Jonathan Lane;Tyesha Rogers; Jackeline Rosales; Jumanee Smith; and Michael Spiva.

Opening reception for the “Gray Areas’ exhibition in the Kortman Gallery will be Friday, 5:30-9 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through June 30. The opening reception is free and open to the public.

Kortman Gallery is located upstairs at J. R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 N. Main St. in downtown Rockford. For more information call 815-968-0123 or visit jrkortman.com. R.

2 thoughts on “Burpee inspiration for Roosevelt students

  • Jun 2, 2017 at 12:45 am
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    Love what you do with your students, Kyle.

  • Jun 2, 2017 at 4:52 pm
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    Kyle, looks really interesting. Will need to stop there and take a look. Congrats on mounting the show.

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