Published May 07, 2009, 10:08 AM

The art of nature

Crosswinds East Metro Art and Science school will be hosting its first Art in the Arbor Festival on May 9.

By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin

Nature is a work of art and what better way to create your own work of art than with elements found in the natural world.

Crosswinds East Metro Art and Science school will be hosting its first Art in the Arbor Festival on May 9.

“It’s focus is on springtime, the arts, and the environment,” Lia Reich, the family involvement coordinator at Crosswinds, said. “The whole event is going to be outside, given the weather cooperates.”

In cooperation with the city of Woodbury, the Art in the Arbor event will host a variety of creative activities for visitors. The event will include Crosswinds’ students leading craft activities where masks, puppets, costumes, sculptures and noise makers are made out of materials found in nature.

“Each station uses materials that are as much from nature as possible — sticks, grass, flowers, leaves,” Reich said. “But, of course, not everything is from the environment.”

Once these natural crafts are completed, the event will culminate in a community parade through Crosswinds’ grounds.

“We have beautiful grounds here and the idea is to parade around our mowed paths with our noise makers and our puppets and our masks,” Reich said.

In addition to the parade and the crafts, professional dancers will be teaching a few lessons in salsa, meringue and cha-cha.

Hosting festivals in he springtime is nothing new for Crosswinds, in the past they have hosted a “festival of nations” type event for their school community, but Reich said they felt it had started to lose its focus.

“It got a little bit less like a family event and more like a bunch of teens hanging out causing trouble and just wanting to hang out,” she said. “It wasn’t feeling like it was meeting its purpose.”

Reich said she also wanted to make Art in the Arbor a Woodbury community event rather than strictly a Crosswinds community event because she wanted to introduce their neighbors to the school since not a lot of people know they are there.

“We wanted to invite the community into our little school community because we feel like not a lot of people know we’re here,” she said. “We really want people to know who we are, what we do, and feel like we’re part of the community.”

Reich said the city of Woodbury became involved because of their school park, Crosswinds Park, being certified by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources a school forest and the Woodbury forester is part of the school’s Forest Advisory Council which works to help maintain the forest and promote public outreach and education.

Anna Barker, the reading strategies teacher, developed the concept of hosting the event entirely outdoors because she felt it was a way to emphasize their culture and community.

“Part of our culture is our agriculture and horticulture,” she said. “This event blends the environments outside with the environment inside.”

Barker has been a Master Gardener with the University of Minnesota Extension Services for 19 years, so she knows the importance of connecting with the environment.

“I love to have people go out and enjoy the woods,” she said. “We want to start a tradition and build a connection with celebrating springtime —it’s how the arts and sciences come together.”

Reich said they are hoping for around 150 people, to come out for the event but with a first time event, it is unknown whether it will be a success or not.

“We’re trying to reach out to the community and have them know more about us and we want people to enjoy how beautiful our grounds are,” she said. “We would also like people to take a appreciation for the environment and art.”

The city of Woodbury and Crosswinds East Metro Art and Science School will be hosting the Art in the Arbor Festival on May 9 from 1-3 p.m. at the school located at 600 Weir Drive. Activities will include a variety of crafts, a dance workshop and a community parade. Light refreshments will also be for sale.

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