Media Art Creates “Chalk Talk” images after Wing Young Huie

IMG_8886web-1024x574new-(1)Media Art students pair with someone they might not know too well and engage each other by asking a series of open-ended questions. Then they choose only one of the answers from each person, which that person then writes down on black construction paper with white chalk. This intimate and non-confrontational interaction addresses issues of bias, challenging preconceptions of the other and one’s self. How would you answer these questions?

  • What are you?
  • How do you think others see you? What don’t they see?
  • What advice would you give to a stranger?
  • What is your favorite word?
  • Describe an incident that changed you.
  • How have you been affected by race?

Finch Robot

BirdBrain1010-0012The Finch is a new robot for computer science education. Its design is the result of a four year study at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE lab. South Ridge art students are being given opportunity to work with the Finch Sept 8-10 through a loan program with Code Savvy in the Twin Cities.

Finch is a versatile, rugged little robot created at Carnegie Mellon for use in schools, and manufactured by Bird Brain Technologies.   You can program the Finch to move around, play notes, talk, change color and sense obstacles, orientation, temperature and more.  Most of you will want to program it in the easy-to-use languages of Scratch or Snap (an advanced version of Scratch) but there are other languages that work, including Javascipt and Python.

The Finch was designed to allow students to write richly interactive programs. On-board features include:

  • Light, temperature, and obstacle sensors
  • Accelerometers
  • Motors
  • Buzzer
  • Full-color beak LED
  • Pen mount for drawing capability
  • Plugs into USB port – no batteries required

The Finch is manufactured under license from Carnegie Mellon University. They are being loaned to Code Savvy by Bird Brain Technologies, the developer and manufacturer of these robots.

Roth Mobot

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South Ridge art student and interested community members met with artists Patrick McCarthy and Tommy Stephenson of Roth Mobot in late April to create experimental electronic musical instruments. Most had never had opportunity to work with battery operated electronics and benefitted from the opportunity. Participating in a new and evolving art form is exciting. Circuit-benders and experimental electronic art is still being defined by practitioners, artists and the audience.

All art classes created an optical theremin. Prove Gallery folks circuit bent toys. South Ridge students were invited to come to Prove and make electronic circuit bent toys as well. Public performances were held Friday night at South Ridge  and Saturday night at Prove Gallery.All was free of charge.

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This activity is funded in part by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council with money from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008 and by Minnesota Power Foundation

Lettin’ Off STEAM with Frank Theatre

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The third and culminating performance with Frank Theatre teaching artists Wendy Knox and Emily Zimmer was February 26th in the South Ridge School forum. Students had been working for six weeks on storytelling activities, theatre games, building on writing skills and dissecting a story to find meaning – all of which aided them in the re-telling of The Pied Piper retold by the 3rd-4th grades, Three Strong Women retold by the afterschoolSTEAM students, 3rd-4th Grades,  Anansi Searches for a Fool, Grade 7 Design and Anansi Plays Dead Grade 7 Design students.

Original music was performed by students as well which was composed by Twin Cities musician and educator Marya Hart. Lyrics were written by the students during a writing activity.

In the story of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” The town of Hamelin was full of rats and were unable to do anything. Even the cats were not able to kill the rats. One day, a fellow  came to town called the Pied Piper. He went to the Mayor and asked him, “What will you pay me if I free your town of every single rat?” The mayor offered 10,000 coins. Happy with the offer, the Pied Piper started playing his pipe. Hearing the shrill, keen note, every rat came out from its hole and started following him into the water and waited till every rat had drowned.

Now the town was free. After all the rats were dead, the Pied Piper returned and asked the Mayor for his money. The Mayor said that he could only give him twenty pounds for such an easy job. Pied Piper wanted to teach him a lesson. This time he played a different tune. Hearing his music, the children came out of their houses as the Pied Piper led the children far, far away. The Mayor sent his men to look for the piper and bring the children back but none could find the lost children.

In the story of the “Three Strong Women” tells of Forever-Mountain is a famous wrestler, smug and rather conceited–until he meets Maru-me. Along with her mother and grandmother, she shows him what real strength is. Under their tutelage, he gains not only physical prowess, but the humility of the truly strong. This version of the Japanese tall tale is filled with sly humor and witty exaggeration. The lesson of kindness being stronger than hate.

In the story “Anansi Searches for a Fool” the lazy Anansi, the famed West African trickster figure, decides to go fishing, he looks around for a fool he can convince to do all the work. Imagine his surprise when hawk, also known for his cleverness, offers to accompany him. Anansi continues to trick his other friends and family until they have had enough and run him out of town. This Ashanti folktale, which illustrates the point that “When you dig a hole for someone else, you will fall into it yourself,” is a humorous story of a trickster being caught in his own trap.

In the story, “Anansi Plays Dead”, There was a famine in the land and Anansi thinks about only himself. He began to plot out how he could have the best crops for himself. Usually West Africans always give the richest part of the animal to the “leader” or father of the house. Its kinda like the social class but modified/conformed to family ranked. So he tricks his family into thinking he is dead and they bury him in the richest part of the garde. Every night he sneaks out and eats until full. Eventually he is found out by his family and he feels so embarrassed. “From that day until now, Anansi has not wanted to face people because of their scoffing, jeering, and that is why he is often found hiding in dark corners.” When you have committed a crime in the town you are held to be very shameful. West African usually disowns people that they put to shame.

Background to the trickster Anansi/In west africa, a spider name Anansi wanted to be the owner of all the stories known in the world but the sky god names Nyame was the owner. Anansi asked Nyame can he buy them from him but Nyame told him that the price was too high. The price was 3 things and if Anansi were to complete them then he would be the owner of all the stories. Nyame needed to have hornets(Mmoboro), the great python(Onini), and the leopard (Osebo). Anasi didnt have any problems with capturing these 3 things because he tricked all of them.He made them all believe that he was helping out when he really wasn’t. When he had them in his ownership he called them foolish for falling for his trick. Nyame pronounced Anansi the owner of all stories and any man who told a story would have to acknowledge him. 

Considerable effort was made by South Ridge teachers, district office administration and Frank Theatre teaching artists to provide this opportunity. By the Minnesota State Arts Board approving this Art’s Learning grant South Ridge was provided the opportunity.

The Minnesota State Arts Board is a state agency that stimulates and encourages the creation, performance, and appreciation of the arts in the state. The Arts Learning grant program offers funding for projects that help lifelong learners acquire knowledge and understanding of and skills in the arts. Projects must provide participatory learning and engage learners with skilled teaching artists and high quality artistic experiences. Arts and culture are central to Minnesota’s educational system and lifelong learning opportunities. The arts develop creative minds that maximize new opportunities and find solutions to life’s challenges. In Minnesota, the arts industry is an integral part of the economy. Because of the arts, Minnesota communities are successful, dynamic, attractive places to live and work.

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Studs Terkel


Studs Terkel records the voices of America. Men and women from every walk of life talk to him, telling him of their likes and dislikes, fears, problems, and happinesses on the job. Once again, Terkel has created a rich and unique document that is as simple as conversation, but as subtle and heartfelt as the meaning of our lives….Studs Terkel presents “the real American experience” (Chicago Daily News)–“a magnificent book . . .. A work of art. To read it is to hear America talking.” (Boston Globe).

High School Drawing and Painting students are creating their own “working” graphic novel page. Basd on talking with a “worker” from their own community, students will complete a series of sketches exploring the visual story. Putting words and images together art work will demonstrate to the viewer who these folks are in an most honest and clear voice.

Snow Snake

AIMG_3383[1] game of snow snake is played by four teams, called “corners”, who compete in trying to throw their wooden “snow snakes” the farthest along a long trough, or track, of snow. The game is divided into rounds, and in a round each team gets four throws. At the end of each round, two points are awarded to the team of the person who made the farthest throw in the round, and one point is awarded for the second farthest throw. Play continues until one of the teams wins, by achieving a certain predetermined number of points (usually 7 or 10).

There are two roles on a snow snake team: the Thrower, and the Shiner. The main role of a Shiner is to craft and maintain a team’s wooden “snow snakes” in between games. The Shiner is also tasked with selecting which will be used for each throw during the game. A Thrower, meanwhile, is a player who actually throws the snow snakes during a game. (Wikipedi)

South Ridge Development of Design 8 have created nearly 40 new snow snakes to be used in this years Snow Week Games. A student from each grade level will choose one of the Design8 strudent’s snow snake to compete. Best of three throws is declared school champion.

8th grade students will also hold their own class competition.

Small Planet?

Scene opens to solar winds gently blowing intergalactic tumbleweeds past the open porch door. An eerie quiet blankets the solar system.

We don’t know about you, but ever since those astronomers kicked Pluto out of the party, we’ve been feeling mighty lonely over here on planet Earth.

But wait! We’ve just the solution: make a new planet! Media Art students are becoming masters at using PhhotoShop. They know how to turn any panorama or landscape photograph into a full-fledged planet!

The process takes only 5 minutes. (Launching your new planet into solar orbit may take a bit longer.) But the effect is fantastic.

Lettin’ Off STEAM with Frank Theatre – Fall 2013

2Frankweek2 001South Ridge 3-4th grades, 7th Grade and 3-6th afterschoolSTEAM students again were fortunate enough to work with Frank Theatre teaching artists Wendy Knox and Emily Zimmer. Stories this round were based in fairy tales. In the tradition of the fairy tale often parents were able to tell terrific stories to teach their children a life lesson through a terrific story. Often the lessons had tragic elements. It wasn’t only the children that behaved badly or the adults who behaved perfectly.

Considerable time was spent with the students dissecting the stories for the “truth” they held today. Students re-wrote, re-edited and re-built the stories to tell a tale for today.

Marya Hart a professional composer and musician spent one week with students teaching them original songs she wrote based on their poetry about the stories they wrote.

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Morse Code

7th Grade Intro to Design students are making their own hula hoop with an empowering chant spelled out in Morse Code around it’s circumference.

The Morse Code was developed by Samuel F.B. Morse in 1844. Even after more than 160 years, it is still used today, especially by amateur radio operators. The code can be sent quickly over the telegraph, and is also useful for emergency signaling (SOS) with a radio, mirror, or flashlight, and even for people with severe disabilities to communicate. In order to master Morse code, however, you need to approach it like a new language.

Printmaking Class Prints Shirts for MSAB Lettin’ Off STEAM with Frank Theatre


High School Printmaking students printed over 130 Tshirts for all those students in the 3-7th grades involved in the Frank Theatre artist residency at South Ridge this year. Silkscreen is a very popular process for mass producing an image on either a textile or poster.

The Minnesota State Arts Board funded the theatre art’s residency which will occur twice this school year. It’s goal is to provide students opportunity to work together to demonstrate what they know. Too often students just fill in the blanks. Through creative expression students are able to build on their strengths,  demonstrate leadership and team work.

Digital Photography Portraits

Getting to know each other anew each year can be a challenge in a small community or neighborhood. Students in the Media Art class spent time creating unique digital portraits as they thought about what their special talent is in their family/community.

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Lettin’ Off STEAM with Frank Theatre

Third Grade Theatre games

3rd Grade Theatre games

7th Grade final performance at Panther Pride, May 16th

7th Grade’s final performance at Panther Pride, May 16th

South Ridge School received a Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) grant providing three 6-week artist residencies with Minneapolis based Frank Theatre. Guest artists Wendy Knox and Emily Zimmer will work with students in storytelling workshops. Seventh grade students wrote original stories based on Greek Myths, third-fourth grade students participated in theatre games and thrid through sixth grades in afterschoolSTEAM perform their new work based on an Aesop fable at the Panther Pride Night, May 15th.

The second residency will begin Sept 10th ending October 23rd. A public performance will be held in the Forum by all students participating. Families and community public are welcome to come.

The goal of the grant is to encourage students in expressing themselves. These stories built on each student’s unique take-away on what they have learned thus far in school and at home.  This personal stake in creating new work make these stories all the more rich and entertaining

The arts require original thinking, use of past, current and future knowledge as well as managing stress, watching our time and self control.  Spending time with Frank Theatre’s Wendy Knox brings the best out of us all. Emily Zimmer provides clarity and direction on stage and in the classroom. They both bring us a joyful challenge to make something new with only ourselves! As a teaching artist team we are in for a wonderful ride as we move into a better place.

Images from Week 1/April 9-10 with Frank Theatre

Images from Week 2/April 16-17 with Frank Theatre

Images from Week 3/April 23-24 with Frank Theatre

Images from Week 5/May 15-16 with Frank Theatre

Vans Custom Culture


 Art students have for the second year entered the Vans Custom Culture. Custom Culture is a national high school shoe customization contest where schools from all over the United States compete for a chance to win money for their art programs. Registered schools received four pairs of blank Vans sneakers that were customized in four themes: Art, Music, Action Sports and Local Flavor.

Pictured above: Music by Dustin Mercier and Vincent Pohto, Active Sports by Warren Mountain, Art by Chelsea Williams and Quinn Holte, and Local Attitude by Cedar Savage.

Long Board Designs









Long boards are transportation. 8th Grade art students used the long board as inspiration in designing a black/white and mixed media/color long board design describing who they are and where they plan to go in their lives.

Damage of Duluth, MN,  a local skateboard shop agreed to view the stuent’s long board designs and make comments. Commercial products are always looking for new and innovative designs. South Ridge art student’s long board proposals are a excellent window in to what young people in our community are thinking about and hoping for in their own lives.

To see all Long Board Designs follow this link


Wing Young Huie Art Residency

Students worked with artist Wing Young Huie creating Chalk Talk images. The week began with a seven through twelfth grade assembly in the Forum. Huie talked about his own history growing up in Duluth. After graduating from Duluth Central he went to UMD briefly before transferring to the main university campus in the Twin Cites, graduating in Journalism. He wanted to be a reporter.

It was by accident he started taking pictures. While travelling he purchased a camera. He continued developing his skills for another thirty plus years. Since then he has shown publicly, primarily focusing on distinct neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Huie’s work focuses on  personal perception and stories. His discussions provide opportunities for students to better understand their own ideas and personal perceptions of others. The chalk talk process provides a place to consider another’s point of view and broaden our own points of view. These photographs shown above were created after students interviewed each other using open ended questions such as

What are you?

What advise would you give to someone new to your community?

How do people perceive you? How do you perceive yourself?

How has race affected you?

In addition to spending time with the Seventh and Eighth Grade Design courses, the South Ridge High School Drawing and Painting class and Media Art Photography classes he worked with the third through sixth grade STEAM/Creative Writing class and Fourth Grade Literature classes.

On Thursday South Ridge joined with the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Drawing and Painting class in a lecture and Chalk Talk.  On Friday a small group of students visited the assisted living facility on the Fond du Lac Reservation to hear stories and take pictures of the elders living in the new facility. Students found the time well spent as Huie walked them through a self-identification of their views of themselves and others.

Over 500 images were taken. The majority of photographs can be found on display in the exhibition hall at the South Ridge School.

The residency was generously funded by the Northland Foundation, ISD2142 Indian Education and the South Ridge Art Club.

Winter Counts

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Going back in "History"

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Winter counts are histories or calendars in which events are recorded by pictures, with one picture for each year.

The Lakota call them waniyetu wowapi. Waniyetu is the word for year, which is measured from first snowfall to first snowfall. It is often translated as “a winter.” Wowapi means anything that is marked on a flat surface and can be read or counted, such as a book, a letter, or a drawing.

Winter counts are physical records that were used in conjunction with a more extensive oral history. Each year was named for an event and the pictures referring to the year names served as a reference source that could be consulted regarding the order of the years. People knew the name of the year in which other important events occurred, and could place these in time by referring to the winter count. The events used to name the years were not necessarily the most important things that happened but ones that were memorable and widely known within the community.

After each project a student’s work will be chosen for our digital Winter Count. This image is to be used in the spirit of the traditional Winter Count – to record an event that is memorable and known within the South Ridge School community.