Wauwatosa students involved in school-wide art project: “This has a vibrancy, a uniqueness”

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WAUWATOSA -- A Wauwatosa school has its entire student body involved in an art project -- kindergarten through fifth grade -- and it's getting professional guidance from a local artist who is spending the fall in the classroom with students.

Marina Lee

Marina Lee

Abbey Finn's classroom at Washington Elementary School is a busy place this fall, with students coloring, crafting and creating trees out of paper maché. Everyone at Washington Elementary School has a hand in this big project.

The district partnered with Marina Lee, who is serving as the school's "Artist in Residence" this fall. It's part of a beautification initiative made possible by the $20,000 raised by the school's PTA in a single fundraiser.

The artwork will be on display in the school cafeteria for years to come.

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

"Our kids can come back as adults and see that they've done it. It's pretty cool," said Laura Kirklewski, president of the PTA.

"It is a gesture back to our entire school community, to our parents and our students, that we get to create something all together as a community K-5," said Joe Russell, principal of Washington Elementary.

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Marina Lee is based in Milwaukee, but has worked with school districts around the country since 1992. She says beyond the students' excellent technical skills, students are learning problem solving skills by working in groups.

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

"There is a certain energy that you only get from many students contributing at the same time. One person, the energy settles down. This has a vibrancy, a uniqueness," Lee said.

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Lee has worked on projects at other area schools including Lincoln Elementary in Wauwatosa, Pierce School in Milwaukee and Whittier School in Waukesha.

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project

Washington Elementary School school-wide art project