Blazing a trail of art
Students at Eyler Elementary School in Michigan had a whale of a time recently painting with the renowned marine artist known simply as Wyland.
A native of Madison Heights, Mich., Wyland visited the 386-student K-3 school located 20 miles south of Detroit as part of his quest to visit schools in 50 states within 50 days.
Wyland, who lives in Hawaii, is halfway through the Wyland Ocean Challenge of America, trying to raise awareness about protecting ocean environments.
The tour, launched in conjunction with the United Nations' declaration of 1998 as the International Year of the Oceans, was slated to stop in Washington this week.
Wyland, 43, raised awareness and enthusiasm during his recent Michigan stop at Eyler Elementary, where several students helped him paint a seascape on a 32-foot-long series of panels that will remain on permanent display in the school's gymnasium.
"This really looks neat, and the kids painted right along with him," Principal Doug Monthei said of the panel, which features a large dolphin and a whale.
"Some of the jellyfish [the students] put on it aren't exactly perfect, but the center of the panels are professional," he added.
And in an impromptu move to leave another lasting mark on the school, Wyland persuaded administrators to let him sketch a humpback whale on the wall just outside the main office, and then let the students fill it in.
Also accompanying the Wyland Ocean Challenge tour is a tractor-trailer that houses an oceanographic museum for students to tour.
But the visits are not all about Wyland's artwork. He and his four-member staff also spend time working with students on their own art projects.
Mr. Monthei said that the visit to his school was especially memorable for his students because many of them have never been to the ocean. "The whole place that morning was just excited and electric," he added.
--ROBERT C. JOHNSTON
Vol. 18, Issue 7, Page 3