Artist teaches Patterson students to make “living sculptures”

Artist Doug helps Patterson student Mark Wilson create a sculpture of a hand. (Photo: Mengfei Chen, Patterson Press)

By Mengfei Chen, Patterson Press staff writer

Ms. Broere’s art class welcomed a guest artist into their classroom on February, 03, 2012. Doug Retzler, a local artist who is creating a living sculpture installation for the Greater Children and Nature Conference at Cylburn Park, was invited to Patterson to teach students how to make a grass sculpture.

At the beginning of this project, students were taught to mold clay into the shape of a hand, using their own hands as templates. Next, Retzler and Ms.Broere took the clay hands and put them in a kiln (an oven used for making ceramics). Then, they returned the hardened clay hands to the students who made them.

Once the students received their “hands”, they used more clay to cover the surface and make it three dimensional. At first, most students don’t know how to make the hands correctly until Retzler personally guided them one by one. This gracious man bent down to the same height as the seated students, took little pieces of clay and mended every parts of the “hands”. At once, students learn the way Retzler does it, and they follow his example.

While the students continue to make more hand sculptures, Ms.Broere showed them a machine used for drying ceramic. Its unique appearance and powerful functions impress the class.

Retzler plans to use plant seeds in the clay hands and grow a variety of different plantings, which will become part of his art exhibit at Cylburn Park called “Greening Hands”. The same will also be featured in a “Nature Art in the Park” exhibition in Leakin Park later this spring. In 2008, a Patterson High School art class helped create a similar Green Footprint display for the Baltimore Eco Festival. More information about his projects can be seen at:

Hand sculptures made by Ms. Broere's art students with the help of artist Doug (Photo: Mengfei Chen, Patterson Press)

Artist Doug shows students how to make hand-shaped sculptures (Photo: Mengfei Chen, Patterson Press)

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