"Mama" by my daughter age 3

Monday, April 21, 2014

Art Careers! Taxidermy

One of the standards from the 5th grade art curriculum is learning about art careers. I had an artist in resident earlier this year, but never in my career did I think that I would have a taxidermist in my classroom, let alone have a mounted deer temporarily housed in my art room.

At my school we have been lucky enough to have a wonderful long term sub custodian, Jesse Lewis, while our regular custodian has been out most of the year for a shoulder surgery/recovery. Jesse is a custodian by day, and artist/taxidermist by night (and weekends, seriously I don't when he sleeps).
He owns his taxidermy shop called High, Wet and Wild LLC in downtown Green Bay, WI.

After getting to know Jesse and talking about his business I learned a whole lot about taxidermy that I didn't know before. I had no idea all the sculpting and painting that goes into it. After Jesse saw that I had an artist come in for my classes in February, he expressed interest about some day being able to teach what he knows in a classroom. So I thought, hey, why not give it a try now! 5th graders need to learn about different art careers. That's how this all began!

So last Wednesday I get to school and walk into my classroom and find it transformed. There were mounted animals, fish forms, bear skulls, teeth, and hides all over my room. Jesse outdid himself in presentation alone! When he was teaching the 5th grade classes he did a great job on talking about the ethics of hunting, because not everyone is into hunting. He also talked about his struggle with academics when he was in school. He was in special education up until high school- and art class was what got him through school. He loved art- painting, drawing, it's what made him want to go to school.

He talked to the students about all the different parts of his business- the art side and the business side. He did an airbrush painting demonstration of a fish and even let the kids do some of the detail work. What I really loved about his talk was how he covered the business end of being an artist. He incorporated math into his talk, telling the students how he uses math to calculate his costs of running his shop and negotiating his prices. And also how you need to have communication/ people skills when dealing with customers.

It was a great experience, and am so thankful that Jesse took time out of his busy day to talk with my 5th graders.

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