Monster Building in Green River

Megan Mosholder – visiting artist

I have always been an artist, ever since I was a small child. To this day, my parents still tell stories about how nothing in the house was safe from becoming a potential art supply. This is still true in my current art practice: everything and anything has potential to become an art object.

I am an installation artist and I create what I call three-dimensional drawings: sculptural compositions built out of linear elements such as twine, ribbon, barricade tape and light. Most of my work is site-specific: constructed in a space to tell a visual story about a specific location. I travel to my install sites, which has allowed me to make artworks all over the world.

Before returning to graduate school to study art, I was a high school art teacher. I taught art in Columbus, Ohio for four years at The Graham Public Charter School, a place where my students taught me to have the courage to become the artist I am today. Those kids (many of whom I am still in touch with) showed me that we all are capable of becoming whoever we want to be if we truly want it bad enough. I feel as though I learned more from my students than I ever could have taught them. This is just one of the reasons I continue to teach today, because I love the classroom and I love watching students make new discoveries and develop problem solving skills while they make an art object, which is what I feel occurred during my time at Green River’s Community Center.

I came to the community center with a lesson plan that used modest materials: recycled cardboard boxes, insulation foam, scissors, glue, and tape. I presented my art lesson to the kids: we were going to build monster costumes and a small town, the end result being a Godzillian-like finale of rip-and-tear destruction! The kids all cheered and we set to it. Each day I prepped the kids with a storybook reading of a monster tale and projected cardboard monster costume images to get them started, but that was all they needed. Each kid drew, planned and constructed either a costume, a building for the town, or both. They knew what they wanted to make and each one of them was able to figure it out in their own way. I was merely there to support, nurture and encourage.

I feel that more often than not, kids don’t get to behave like kids. They’re expected to be quiet, sit still, and use inside voices, and rarely are they able to be freely silly, play, and wreak havoc in a safe way. We of course—the class, fellow teachers, and I—had a mutual conversation about how to be monsters and destroy the town with respect: use nice words, nice hands, and play in a way that ensured no one got hurt and that there were no tears. In the end, the destruction only lasted a couple of minutes—maybe only seconds—but I think all of us had an excellent time. I know I did!

I am truly grateful for the opportunity given me to work with the children in Green River. They are all wonderful, kind, contentious, and incredibly smart, creative problem solvers. I am proud of what the kids made in class, and I hope they are too. Thank you Maria, Justin, Hope, and Michaela for all the mutual support, and to Pyramid and Epicenter for bringing me here to Green River where I have had such an incredible art-making and teaching experience. It is one that I will never forget!