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Mural Merges Art, Environment at Cranberry Station Elementary

An artist in residence program is allowing students at a Westminster elementary school to learn about Maryland while creating a clay masterpiece.

Fourth graders at Cranberry Station Elementary School are building a clay mural that will liven up a wall in the school while at the same time paying homage to the state of Maryland. 

Artist Terry Whye is working with students at Cranberry Station Elementary to help them build the clay mural. She is also working with students in other grades to build other clay projects that will accompany the mural. 

The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) initiated the project and is paying for Whye to work with the students through an Artist in Residence program. 

The subject of the mural is native plants and the three regions of Maryland --ideas that are directly aligned with the fourth grade science and social studies curriculum according to PTA president Aimee Schultz.

The mural will be located in a central hallway between the schools' gym and media center that faces a wall of windows and outdoor gardens. Schultz said they plan to plant the gardens with native plants to interact with the mural.

"There are multiple goals we hope to accomplish through this program," Schultz said. "We want to expose our students to a local working artist ... to expose our entire population to environmental concerns including invasive plants and habitat awareness, and create a sense of pride and community through a school-wide collaborative artwork completion." 

Terry Whye, instructor and owner of Whye Clay Works in Finksburg, has been teaching art for more than 30 years. She is certified with the Teaching Artist Institute and she is a teaching artist for Maryland State Arts Council’s AiE artist residency program. 

Whye told Patch that she is impressed by the fourth graders. 

"The fourth graders have been amazing," Whye said. "They're very focused, they're enthusiastic and great at following directions. I'm very pleased with the results."

The students will continue to work on the project until it is complete, probably in May or June, Schultz said.

"This mural will be a collaborative project that all of our students can have pride and ownership in accomplishing," Schultz said.

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