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Wild about art: Tigers, lemurs and lions serve as models for students

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, October 18, 2017
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Who is Studying Who 1

WHO IS STUDYING WHO? – Decatur High School art students (from left) Daniel Ingaunzo, Virginia Ortiz, Krysten Morgan, Miranda Martinez, Ariela Tjejo, Ashton Powell and Brayden Brown study a couple of inquisitive lemurs Tuesday at CARE in Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur High School art students had a unique learning experience Tuesday.

Instead of being in a classroom, students worked under a cloudless blue sky.

There were no textbooks or computers to be seen, only majestic-looking tigers pacing back and forth in their enclosures, occasionally chuffing at the students who were drawing them.

DHS’ advanced placement art and art III classes made up of juniors and seniors were visiting the Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) in Bridgeport to create drawings from real life rather than photos.

“I think when they finish their artwork, we’ll see that it is very expressive and shows the beauty and the majesty of the creatures,” said art teacher Sarah Burdett. “As the kids are walking by and experiencing the animals so close, I can see kind of a sense of wonder, and that’s not something you can get from Google Images.”

Burdett said her students have worked really hard, and she wanted to take them on a field trip that would be enjoyable and help them develop their art skills.

Student Miranda Martinez said it was her first time to visit CARE, and she liked the unique atmosphere.

“You’re not used to this unless you go to the zoo,” she said. “So when you’re here, you can actually get this close to them, like you understand them better when you see them from a different point of view.”

In addition to tigers, subjects also included lemurs and lions.

Student Ashton Powell spent time drawing a lemur in a nearby enclosure and noticed things about the animals she hadn’t before.

“They have really long eyelashes; you can barely see them. And they have super tiny pupils, which makes it weird to draw,” she said.

Sitting outside the enclosure where tigers Slade and Boomer were serving as models, Powell said she enjoys seeing the animals in real life.

“It’s always nice to come and see how they move because it gives them a little more personality, and you can put that into what you draw,” she said.

In addition to the drawing, students were also using a technique called sgraffito, a scratch art that Burdett said works well to show the texture and stripes on the animals.

Once students return to the classroom, they’ll do a full painting on canvas.

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