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‘Intergalactic’ art project

The sixth grade students of Demopolis Middle School spent time over the last few weeks learning a little bit extra about the glory of the universe.

The DMS sixth grade science classes each spent two class periods with Meggin Mayben, the school’s art teacher, and Livingston artist Sheila Hull. The project, made possible by a grant from the Alabama Blackbelt Arts Education Initiative, allowed the students to paint their own renditions of images captured by the Hubble Telescope. The project took shape after a visit to Hull’s studio.

“This is the second time I have come to the middle school,” Hull said. “They came to my studio and were looking for some ideas.”

Hull had done her own paintings from Hubble photographs, making the project a perfect fit for a group that was studying the solar system.

“Each class did a different painting,” Hull said. “I led them step by step, how to sketch it, how to paint it.”

“I thought it was nice and pretty and colorful,” sixth-grader Tyasia Bonner said of the picture selected for her class. “There are things I didn’t know was in the solar system.”

The project appeared to serve its purpose as a number of sixth graders admitted to having their interest piqued by the hands-on approach to learning about the vastness of space.

“It helped me see the solar system has a variety of colors,” sixth grade student Tucker Brace said.

“We had just studied the nine planets. When we did this, it looked much bigger and much better than what we studied,” sixth grader Hunter Tangle said. “It made space more interesting. Most of us didn’t know this was even out there.”

Hull said the students responded well to the project.

“They are thrilled with it. They are not having art in school like they used to. The majority of them are wanting to paint every day of every week,” she said. “I have been impressed. They have just been a pleasure to work with.”

The final phase of the project will take shape in the coming weeks when 25 students will be selected to help paint ceiling murals with scenes from the universe in both sixth grade halls.

“They were fabulous,” Mayben said of sixth grade science teachers Heidi Nettles and Debra Brown, who helped facilitate the project.

“The science teachers were all for it. They brought the class. They taught the lessons first. Anything that reinforces what has been taught is encouraged.”