When I joined a flat-foot support group on Facebook to ask advice on running shoes, I never imagined it would lead to the inpiration for a high school art project 3,000 miles away.
It sounds unlikely, I know, but that’s how the project Destination: A Journey Through Time and Space for grades 11-12 in the fine art class at Vineland High School, New Jersey, came about.
Artist and teacher Jana Dandrea was recovering from foot surgery and offered me some helpful advice, when I asked the group about trail running shoes for an old over-pronator like me.
Through Facebook, Jana was inspired by pictures of my runs in and around Cardiff – in the woodland of Forest Farm, the tree-lined Taff Trail, and Bute Park, with its views of Cardiff Castle.
It inspired her to start a painting, which included some of the scenery. Then she added some famous Cardiff landmarks, like the Wales Millennium Centre and the Customs House.
“The Cardiff landscape is a blend of the old and new,” she told me. “Combining the historical architectural elements of the old world within the modern landscape. I wanted its historical significance, its foundation, to be remembered”.
It gave her the idea of a similar assignment for her students – choose a destination anywhere in the world that they’d like to explore. It could be a place they have already been to or a place they’ve been dreaming of. Once they had established the location, students had to do extensive research on their destination by highlighting the key points and attractions.
“What is your destination known for? Why do you want to explore this place? Why should other people travel here?” Once they’d established the key points, they had to explore their destination’s history. “What historical importance does this destination have? What buildings/monuments are of significant importance?”
So the idea was for the students to combine present and past elements from their chosen location and create a new landscape in mixed media.
“Several students said that they really enjoyed the freedom yet structure of this project,” Jana told me. “They got to explore places around the world and do their own research: Ireland, Puerto Rico, India, Pakistan, Ukraine, UK, Hawaii, Wales, Brazil.”
Thank you, Jana, for a wonderful piece of art – from a surprising source!
For more of Jana’s art, follow her Instagram account.
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