Students attending Zachary Elementary School during the 2014-15 school year had a hand in creating artwork that is now part of the Jindal family’s initiative to feature young artists.
On Aug. 3, Supriya Jindal announced the artwork selected for display in the Louisiana’s Governor’s Mansion throughout August. The list includes Holly Marchiafava’s and Danye Pelichet’s third-grade classes, Kathleen Bridwell’s and Maegan Brown’s third-grade classes and ZES fourth-graders. Their work — which includes a George Rodrigue “Blue Dog” inspired by Stephen Wanger, a New Orleans artist who uses glued-on Mardi Gras beads, a “Card Shark” with strategically placed playing cards and decoupage, and a guitar made of repurposed materials — was all created during art teacher Mike Cottingim’s classes.
“This month’s art displays the true talent of Louisiana’s young artists. Many of these magnificent pieces were inspired by Louisiana’s unique style, creating a cultural sensation for all who visit,” Jindal said.
Artwork from students at schools in Bossier City, Franklinton, Houma, Lake Charles, Mamou, Mt. Airy, Slidell, Sorrento, St. Amant and Vacherie is included, as well.
Since 2008, the Jindal family has selected a new group of children’s artwork to display each month, paying tribute to the student artists.
Besides the artwork at the Governor’s Mansion, Cottingim is proud of some of the work presently displayed at Zachary Elementary.
Last year, every student created an original 5-by-5-inch painting in either cool or warm colors, and afterward, two of the paintings were glued back to back. The art squares were then used to create two kinetic mobiles, measuring 11 by 6 feet that hang in the school’s atrium and library.
“It’s constantly moving and so beautiful,” Cottingim said. “Everyone comments on it when they walk past. All my kids think of themselves as artists.”
Last year, the students learned about Rodrigue and Andy Warhol’s “Five Patterns of Nature” and painted a Blue Dog replica with Warhol’s nature patterns as the background. The work measures 7 by 6 feet.
“I tell them that if they create it, I will do my best work framing it, which makes them really proud to show off their work,” Cottingim said.
The former Oklahoma principal-turned-art-teacher said painting and creating comes naturally. His style and creative methods were what intrigued Principal Jennifer Marangos several years ago in recruiting Cottingim to teach art.
“I have an eye for identifying recyclable materials and using them in new and different ways,” Cottingim said. “For example, last year we used tin cans that the cafeteria ordinarily would throw away and cut them into shapes and painted them, using them in some of our mixed media pieces.”
Crumpled-up maps make great textured surfaces, a globe sawed in half makes a wonderful hot air balloon and straws double nicely as poles, Cottingim added. “You have to get really creative with limited funds,” he said.
Cottingim attends as many art festivals and galleries as he can to become inspired.
“I look for things that would also inspire my students and try scaling it down to a level that will make them successful,” Cottingim said. “That’s what I love about teaching art.”