Kinetic art teacher molds Maple students
Christos Tryfonopoulos of Glenview, 12, a Maple School seventh grader, listens to Joan Marsh's critique of his kinetic sculpture during a 3D summer school District 30 art class. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:14PM
Northbrook/Glenview School District 30 summer school (with record-breaking enrollment) is ending this week, but Joan Marsh of Northbrook, instructor of a three dimensional sculpture class, remains inspired.
“The 3D aspect of art is something I know and love,” said Marsh, a 30-year Northbrook resident, who taught kinetic art at Maple School to both Glenview and Northbrook summer school students.
“I studied life (figure) sculpture in high school and college, I have sculpted in wood, plaster, clay and fiber,” Marsh said. “I think three-dimensional art has tremendous value with young artists today.
“First, you teach students how to see things from all angles (360 degrees).
Marsh has three children with her husband Reed, who works in the automotive industry.
Their son Greg, 27, is a New Trier Township High School audiovisual technician. Their other son Stephen, 25, is a Jackson Hole, Wyoming graphic designer. Daughter Maddie, 20, is an Illinois State University junior majoring in exercise science.
“Children today live in this super-fast Internet speed world, so taking time on a project is challenging for most,” said Marsh.
“My hope is to teach them (students) to slow down, pay attention to the details and enjoy the process!”
Three dimensional kinetic sculptures require appreciation of scientific principles.
“A kinetic sculpture is a sculpture with moving parts,” said Marsh. “Although these pieces are small, it requires a lot of time, patience and science.
“The students had to work with balance and weight to get the pieces to spin freely,” she said.
Art speaks to Marsh in heartfelt ways.
“For my own personal work, it’s funny, I love the process more than I love the finished piece. After I finish a piece, I learn and move on.
“What I look for in other artwork is any number of things, could be the use of color, the shape, or the picture.
“I love pieces that evoke some emotion in me…”
Marsh has a special admiration for Claude Monet’s work.
“Monet has always been my favorite and that is largely due to my mother who was also an artist. (When) I was a little girl, my mother used to bundle me and my two sisters up and take us on our annual trek to the Art Institute of Chicago.
“We would take the ‘el’ from Wilmette into the city,” said Marsh.
“I remember rattling along the tracks and then that descent into the subway tunnel. We loved the part when we rode underground in the darkness.”
Once they arrived at the Chicago Art Institute, “we would always walk through the impressionist wing first, then the world of miniatures in the Thorne Room and finally the children’s gift shop where we used to buy these tiny carved elephants that came in a bean about the size of a pea.
“As an adult, I can appreciate all eras of art, but the impressionist wing brings me home and always fills me with warmth, beauty and color.”
Marsh is inspired by Chicago’s Millennium Park.
“I’m always drawn to the sculptures.
“I’m fascinated with ‘the Bean’ (Cloud Gate). I love the shiny surface and how it reflects and distorts everything around it. It’s interesting how something so simple is complex and ever changing every time I see it.”
Marsh will take time off the rest of the summer, enjoying leisure travel with her husband.
In fall, she will resume her teaching assistant duties at Northbrook Wescott School (15 years), perhaps painting more musical/theatrical backdrops for which Marsh is celebrated for.
“School District 30 is a great place to raise a family,” said Marsh, whose three kids enjoyed a District 30 education.
“I have three successful children to prove it.”