Sewickley Montessori students explore 'Circle of Life' through art

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Corinne Vanella said she thinks it is remarkable what South American artists can do with bottle caps and plastic cups.

The fifth-grader at Montessori Children's Community in Sewickley said she thought it was “cool” that one artist she and her classmates studied took the heads off of shovels and made them into a huge pinecone work of art.

Montessori students also are using recyclable materials to make pieces to display in their South American-inspired art show, “Circle of Life.”

Each child at the school, from kindergarten through sixth grade, will have five or six pieces displayed in the show.

Corinne said her favorite project that she and other fourth- and fifth-graders worked on are carpet tube trees decorated with plastic cups painted to look like flowers.

Art teacher Thressia Kriebel said the trees will be located under a canopy to give visitors the feel of a rain forest.

“The rain forest is the over-arching theme — how the rain forest is interconnected — and we reflect on that interconnection in the rain forest in our community, how our school community is interconnected and how we work together and rely on and learn from each other, like the rain forest. We are trying to visually portray that abstract idea,” Kreibel said.

She said she and the students want the show not only to be a visual experience for those who attend and walk though the “rain forest” but a sensory experience as well.

A 240-foot circular mural also will be featured with students and teachers holding hands, interconnecting. Kreibel said students painted the pictures on pieces wood which then were connected together to form the circle.

Around the mural other art work made with recycled materials also will be featured.

Students also made art of people and animals from pieces of insulation. What was left over was used for other art pieces that will be used as a backdrop.

Annie Garbulinsky, 11, a fifth-grader, said she also layered some of those pieces for another art project that looks like a large flower with an intricate metal design in the middle. Her creation is part of the backdrop for the “insulation” people. Kreibel said this flower form of art was inspired by “repousse” crafts and flowers in South America.

The insulation people were inspired by work created by South American artist Romero Britto, who made “fun, geometrical art sculptures” in Brazil, Kreibel said.

Another part of the show will feature wish ribbons which will hang down from netting on a fence. Students wrote their wishes on these ribbons.

The exhibit was inspired by artist Rivine Neuenschwander, who was inspired when she saw the wish ribbons used in a church in South America.

Those attending the show can take down one of the ribbons if they like, make their own wish and hang it back up.

“That's becoming a part of the art themselves. At Montessori, we are so much about community, this lends itself to that idea,” Kreibel said.

Corinne said she loved using the recycled materials to make them into “something great.

“I learned that anything can be art,” she said.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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