In the news:
stories turn heads
through Sam Rayburn's Ike Picket Project
Rayburn High School art teacher Karin Stensrud didn't see scattered
fence pickets as just debris from Hurricane Ike - she saw them as works
of art and a means of expression for her students.
"The inspiration came to me while cleaning the
debris from my yard in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike," Stensrud said.
"While dragging fallen fence pickets to the curb, I noticed that my
street was lined with similar piles and the art teacher in me saw that
these pickets were an amazing resource. I wanted my students to have an
opportunity to share their experiences and express the emotions they
were feeling during and after the storm, and these pickets provided the
began collecting many fence pickets from her neighborhood, which marked
the beginnings of the "Hurricane Ike Picket Project."
Art faculty members Cavan Leerkamp, Alissa Garcia
and Debi Sanstrom all embraced Stensrud's idea and soon all of the art
classrooms were filled with students designing pickets. More than 250
individual pickets were designed and then assembled in the school's
courtyard that provided visitors with a 360-degree visual experience
that artistically expressed students' stories of the storm.
In addition to the main exhibit in the courtyard,
students worked on other projects with smaller sections of fencing. A
large panel in the foyer of the school beckoned visitors to seek out the
project, while four panels in the library chronicled the impending
storm, the evacuation, the destruction and the recovery. The main
exhibit in the courtyard wrapped around the breezeway and lawn, and was
connected to the building as well as the large oak trees. A gateway in
the far wall of the fence invited visitors to pass beneath and between
the pickets and interact with the structure.
"Each picket was unique and meaningful," Stensrud
said. "Together they represent a community of young people who were
personally affected by the destruction of Hurricane Ike."
and teachers that passed through the courtyard were captivated by the
colorful imagery, personal writings, drawings, poetry, and
photography created by the students that cover the front of the
Stensrud said that the placement of the project in
the center of the campus acted as a hub of creative energy.
"Teachers have used the lawn as an outdoor
classroom and encouraged their classes to reflect on the fence as a
source of inspiration for their coursework," she said. "Students took
the long way around the yard and walked past the fence looking at each
picket and talking to their friends about which ones they liked and
Friends and family of faculty have come from
neighboring districts to see and photograph the Picket Project and
several teachers from across the state requested photos of the project,
which was presented at the Texas Art Educators Association convention in
"I think our teachers and students alike felt a
sense of pride, and ownership in this amazing artwork," Stensrud said.
"We were all dealt a blow by Ike, and like the fence pickets we stand
side-by-side, and give each other the support that we need to succeed."
District lead art teacher Shannon Raygoza said the
collaborative nature of this project will continue as the fence is
transformed into a house, built out of our students' pickets, in a group
exhibition based on the Contemporary Art Museum Teen Council's
"Perspectives 165: Contents Under Pressure, Exploring the Dual Theme
Containers and Containment." Many of the other high school art teachers
in Pasadena have created projects based on Hurricane Ike and are working
with Sam Rayburn on a design for a district-wide contribution to the
show in early 2009.