Staff Report

Thanks to a continuing collaboration with the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature in Solvang, the creative animal art of 78 students from Solvang School will be exhibited this fall and winter in the Volentine Family Gallery at the Santa Barbara Zoo. 

This year’s show, titled “Creative Critters: A Mixed Media Art Show,” features 80 artworks employing a wide variety of techniques from seven different art classes ranging from fourth to eighth grades, taught by two different teachers.

Art teacher Devon Espejo enjoyed starting the school year with her students drawing and painting animals. 

“The true excitement was knowing that their artwork could be selected to appear in an authentic art exhibition at the Santa Barbara Zoo,” she said. “Many of these students have grown up going to the zoo and will proudly take their families to see their amazing artwork on display. Partnering with both the Wilding Museum and the Santa Barbara Zoo is a great example for our students about the importance of being involved in their community and the vitality that the arts can bring.”

Erin Dunkle is teaching a new elective that combines art and science and began the school year with a visit to the Wildling to begin to learn about nature journaling where executive director Stacey Otte-Demangate and artist John Iwerks shared background and insights. Back in the classroom her students care for a small colony of Madagascar hissing cockroaches and have been studying different styles and eras of nature journaling.

“Creating art for the Santa Barbara Zoo was a perfect way for my art and science class to tie together two topics we studied in class. For the zoo project, students were asked to create a journal page from the notebook of an explorer new to the island of Madagascar who observes the behavior and anatomy of these interesting creatures,” Dunkle said.