Staff Report

Thanks to a unique new collaboration between the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature in Solvang and the Santa Barbara Zoo, the creative animal art of 50 students from Solvang School and 40 from Montessori Center School is being displayed this summer in the zoo’s Discovery Pavilion until early October.

The student exhibit is in conjunction with the Wildling’s newest show, Animals A to Z, which opened in June.

“It always gives me great joy to tell a student that their artwork has been chosen for an exhibition.  The look of surprise and then pride in their eyes always reminds me why I chose to be an art teacher and inspire their creativity,” said Devon Espejo, a teacher at Solvang Elementary.

Solvang students worked on a variety of animal art projects throughout the year —giraffes, bejeweled Indian elephants, close-ups of animal eyes and other projects.  That diversity is showcased at the zoo.

Montessori students focused their efforts on origami creatures.

“I was really glad to be able to do something to show our love for the animals at the zoo,” one student said.

One colorful effort on display is a butterfly and a penguin, each made up of individual origami creatures.  Students also made strings of cranes that hang from the ceiling.

“We are so proud of the work of all the students and especially the creativity and initiative of both teachers in working with the kids and us in preparing the zoo exhibit,” said Wildling Executive Director Stacey Otte-Demangate.  “It’s exciting to think of the amazing exposure their artwork is getting to the thousands of zoo visitors that will go through the gallery this summer.”

The student show is just one aspect of the collaboration between the museum and the zoo.  Art by several zoo animals is part of the Wildling along with some video of them enjoying their painting activities.  Zoo staff also loaned an X-ray of a rosy boa to the show.  In the museum staff’s effort to represent each letter of the alphabet with at least one artwork, they also made sure to include several species that can be found at the zoo and then marked them as such in the show.

Both the zoo and the Wildling exhibitions will be on display through Oct. 9.

To get more information on the museum, to volunteer and/or join as a member, visit