- Avondale Elementary School
Indianola Walhalla Art Walk Tells Important Story on Global Water Issues
May 19, 2023 -- Wooden art stands line a section of Walhalla Road, with the backdrop of the woods and creek of Walhalla Ravine.
Each stand is part of an overarching story: artwork, poems, and a link to research drawing attention to global water issues.
This new installation, Walhalla Art Walk, is a huge collaborative project between Indianola Informal K-8’s STEAM class and the surrounding community. The art walk consists of 13 wooden displays lining High Street to Brynhild Road.
“There’s an introduction on both sides so that way people can come into the ravine from either way and have the first stand as an introductory stand,” said Rachel Rowen, middle school art teacher at Indianola. “Seventh graders did the artwork and research. The stands themselves were made by mostly seventh and some eighth graders. The poetry was written by kindergartners through sixth graders. We tried to get everyone involved.”
Seventh-grade groups picked a water issue to study in science class and created websites to highlight their research. After conducting their research, they came to art class and worked to translate that information visually.
“We talk a lot about how one of the artists’ jobs is to translate information and make it understandable to the masses,” Rowen said. “Then, we gave all that information to the younger grades, who were able to take what they know about poetry and turn it into poems.”
Months of planning went into bringing the first-ever Walhalla Art Walk to reality. Indianola has a yearlong theme involving water related to the Global Water Dance project, which was a major inspiration for the project.
“We wanted to take a social justice approach to water and water issues, and we also wanted to tie in our neighborhood here,” Rowen said. “All of these stands are based on water issues present in our community, state, country, or globally.”
The stands were installed at the beginning of the month and will be on display until May 22.
“We thought we would take it down sooner, but the response has been so great that we decided [to] leave it up for a few more weeks,” Rowen said.
Each student explained their artwork, research, and inspiration on a recent tour of the displays. Laney Egan’s artwork depicted a fish saying, “Help me.” Her group’s research focused on algae blooms.
“We did our research on algae blooms, and it’s really sad,” she said. “When that happens, you can’t drink the water. It is limiting resources for people who need it. What my artwork means to me is that we are not only hurting people around us but also the creatures around us in lakes.”
James Harris and his group focused on water as a human right, researching how some communities may not have access to clean water. His group focused on communities in the U.S. and around the world.
“My art piece talks about creating a utopia by protecting the world or making it a dystopia by letting bad things happen or making horrible decisions,” Harris said. “I made this to show two sides of the world, and it reflects how every action has a consequence - good or bad.”
The Walhalla Ravine has special relevance to the students and school. Jared Laughbaum, a seventh and eighth-grade science teacher at Indianola, brings students down to the ravine to do water quality testing. Students also get to study the ravine's ecosystem. The school worked with the residents along with the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed and the Clintonville Commission to get permission and support for the project.
“I was really happy with how it turned out,” Laughbaum said. “Students worked really hard. I think when you walk through the ravine, it really shows how hard they worked. I thought they did a great job with the details they put into the websites, and it helped them create really good pieces of artwork.”
Rowen and Laughbaum said this project is bringing STEAM lessons to life and making the lessons relevant to students. Both said the artwork and research tell an important story.
“We wanted to create something where it wasn’t just for the school; we wanted to show the whole community the project,” Laughbaum said. “I use the ravine as a science teacher quite often and realized it is a unique thing we have in the school that is really special. I wanted to give students at this school the opportunity to see the ravine and for the community to see the artwork and projects we create.”