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White Cliffs students create art, identity

Students in a White Cliffs Middle School enrichment class are cultivating a new sense of pride and identity through paintings featuring their school mascot.

About 12 participants meet regularly to work on a series of wolf-themed paintings that parody popular artwork by well-known artists, including Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, Peter Max and Andy Warhol.

The completed paintings have been displayed in the school's hallways for other students to admire.

"We wanted to get an identity for ourselves because we've been moving our school for several years," said Terry Dolan, an art teacher at WCMS who runs the enrichment class. "We wanted something fun and festive that incorporated the wolf because it's our school mascot.

"This gives the students a sense of belonging and ownership in their school."

The school was founded in August 2006, when Kingman Middle School became crowded and some students were sent to the downtown campus of the new White Cliffs Middle School, located in what later became Lee Williams High School.

White Cliffs students moved into their new building on Prospector Avenue in January 2010.

The paintings began in 2009, with a parody of "The Scream" by Expressionist artist Munch, where students replaced the screaming person with a wolf. Next came a version of "The Starry Night" by post-Impressionist artist van Gogh. The students opted to include wolves howling at the moon and Route 66 in their copy that was created last year.

After that, students copied "Sunrise" by Max, an American illustrator and graphic artist who used psychedelic shapes and color. In their copy, completed this year, the students added bright stars, clouds and the head of a wolf.

Also this year, they crafted a wolf version of a Marilyn Monroe painting by Warhol, a leading pop artist. And they put wolf heads on their parody of artist Grant Wood's famous "American Gothic" painting showing a farmer and his spinster daughter.

Now, the students are working on a copy of American painter Keith Haring's work that features dancing wolves. Also, they're beginning a version of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein's bold, colorful paintings that will include wolves and "Class of 2018."

Both paintings will be completed this school year.

"I had never painted before I started coming to this class, and I really love doing this," said seventh-grader Ron Terrill, who discovered a hidden talent for outlining. "It's fun, it makes me feel like I've accomplished something and it helps me identify with my school."


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