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Dickinson MYP Students Create Installation for the Delaware Art Museum

Sixth grade students in John Dickinson’s Middle Years Programme (MYP) completed an original paper Mache installation at the Delaware Museum of Natural History on June 11, 2019.

Under the direction of art teacher Christopher Conrad, the students worked from early April until June 10 to create 22 life-sized Vaquita porpoises to raise awareness of the 22 endangered porpoises left in the world. The sculptures will “ride” waves made of wire fencing and braces designed by John Mesters’ eighth grade Design class. The waves resemble the illegal gill nets that trap the Vaquita.

Four classes studied the reasons and conditions that are causing the Vaquita to vanish. Each student created a mini museum display to communicate information about the Vaquita porpoises and the factors that play a part in their declining numbers. Using old newspaper, flour, water, donated house paint and foam insulation, the classes joined to work on the bodies of the life sized paper Mache porpoises. They learned construction techniques including paper Mache, carving, weaving and shaping foam.

“At first the students were intimidated by the size of the task and didn’t think they could pull it off. When the students were ‘knee deep’ in paper Mache they started to lose focus, but as they started to see the Vaquita take shape, they rallied and finished the job,” said art teacher Chris Conrad. “The students were amazed when they saw the finished installation. They had seen all the parts, but really were surprised to see all their work put together.”

The porpoise project is part of an on-going partnership between the Middle Years Programme and the Delaware Museum of Natural History. Each year, the students create a large installation for the museum.

The installation will be on display at the Delaware Museum of Natural History until September 16. A “Dickinson Day” is being planned during the summer for family and friends to visit the museum and see the students’ work.