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Local schools create art on large storage containers for annual arts festival

April 4, 2017 GMT

Art students from two local schools were invited to construct large-scale art projects for the 12th annual Woodlands Waterway Festival on April 7-9.

Their unconventional canvases? Two 8-foot tall steel storage containers.

The roughly 1,800-pound PODS, donated by PODS Houston, have been given to the Waterway Festival for the last few years, but this is the first year that two schools have been given this opportunity. Students from the John Cooper School in The Woodlands and Gerald D. Irons, Sr. Junior High School in Conroe were chosen to participate in this year’s PODS Art Project.

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival events director Kaylene Barton said the goal is to further incorporate local schools from Montgomery County and the surrounding areas in the arts.

“It gives the students a large collaborative project and gives them the opportunity to create that project from the very start and see it all the way through,” Barton said. “It becomes a project that every student puts their heart and soul into.”


Irons Junior High School art teacher Roberta Willeford said the students who worked on the PODS Art Project, titled “Celebrate the Arts - Live Outside the Lines,” were the Irons Artists at Work club, which includes Kylie Weeks, Kimberly McGhee, Jennifer Berg, Abigail Daley, Mereiedi Dunn, Jillian Duong and Hope Regester.

The artists chose to incorporate an interactive coloring book theme to their project, where the storage container acts as the coloring book, showing a celebration of all arts, including visual, theater, dance and music. During the festival, attendees will be encouraged to color in and help complete the coloring book painted on the side of the container.

“This project allows students of other schools to see what other schools are working on and what community involvement looks like,” Willeford said. “I really hope people take it as an opportunity to see that students from all across the board have a lot to offer artistically-not just high school students but junior high students. It’s something to tie everybody together in the community.”

At John Cooper School, students from the Cooper Art Society and National Arts Honor Society worked on the PODS Art Project. Students involved in the project include Madison Scott, Jessie Brown, Olivia Swanbeck, Andrea Perez Florez, Magnus Haarseth, Teresa Lyons, Kaitlyn Harris, Obie Amudo, Colleen Skinner, Jessie Brown, Nina Rivela, Gina Valderrama, Divya Wagh, Neil Bogenrieder and Issac Drickhamer.

Sophomore Olivia Swanbeck is a member of both societies and was a big part of the PODS Art Project. Swanbeck typically works with sculptures as her preferred medium and often incorporates spray paint into her work. Her experience with spray paint, plus the hours she spent working after school on the project, made her an essential part of the John Cooper School team.


“Spray paint is its own layer, it’s not acrylic or anything, it doesn’t attach itself to the black paint (base), it’s a new layer,” Swanbeck said. “I think spray paint can get a bit more vibrant colors … whereas if you got a regular paint you’d have to work a bit harder for the vibrancy.”

The art students chose an abstract design for the storage containers, titled “Compositionally Embellished,” using a plethora of vibrant and warm hues and geometric shapes. John Cooper School art teacher Jamila Musa Carr said teachers and students created large stencils for much of the project and wanted to work with bright colors to represent spring.

“The kids are really excited to have their work displayed,” Carr said. “This is a huge growing and learning process for them, to have their design shown on at a large-scale event.”

PODS from both schools will be featured during the three-day Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival on April 7-9, at The Woodlands Town Center on 2099 Lake Robbins Drive. The PODS can be found in the Artopoly West and Watercolor Terrace areas of the festival. To purchase tickets for the Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, go online to