This February, special education students in Work Exploration Life Skills (WELS-South) have been exploring the phases of the sun and moon through a two-week artist-in-residency program. Funded by a grant from the 916 Education Foundation, graphic designer and illustrator Kris Gausman collaborated with former WELS-South teacher Erin Phelps-Stark to bring together an adaptive art experience that is always a highlight of the school year.
This year’s theme “From Dawn to Dark,” was inspired by a photography book and used a variety of materials such as paper, glitter, yarn and bottle caps, along with paint, to capture the beauty of the sky. Students worked collaboratively on adaptive art projects which helped them practice their social skills and make improvements over the two-week period. The theme also lended itself into science and discovery, with students curious to learn about phenomenon like the Northern Lights and posing questions such as, “What time does the sun go up in Paris?”
This is Gausman’s sixth year serving as the WELS-South artist-in-residence. In the past, the residency theme has drawn inspiration from India, Africa, Afghanistan and our local heritage in Minnesota. The program culminated with an art show with students proudly displaying their work.
Northeast Metro 916 is one of three intermediate school districts in Minnesota, serving approximately 4,000 students through shared programming that includes career and technical education, special education services, area learning centers and elementary education.