I just finished up two weeks at Floyd Dryden Middle School in Juneau, working almost exclusively with 7th grade science classes. The students were studying human body systems, and had just finished with the skeletal system, so the subject of the residency was comparative anatomy, focusing on the skull. For me, this was a dream residency: working directly in science classes, to showcase how art and science can compliment and enhance each other.

Science teacher Jess Cobley had prepped the students beforehand with a skull observation lesson from Cornell University, so they started with a great a foundation in animal skull characteristics. Then for the first week of the residency I taught sketching techniques and students practiced sketching to closely examine and compare the skulls of various Alaskan mammals. Then in the second week I taught pen illustration skills and light-on-dark techniques, and each student created two finished products: one “technical” pen illustration with caption, and one more interpretive white pencil illustration that revealed something about the animal’s life through the “window” of the eye socket or nasal opening.

I’m so proud of the students, and I think many of them were surprised and thrilled at how well their illustrations turned out. Here are some of the results, displayed at the Juneau Airport. As you can see, many of the students created work that isn’t just high-quality for 7th graders, it’s actually professional-quality illustration.


The Artists In Schools Program is made possible through partnership between the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, the Rasmuson Foundation, Floyd Dryden School, and the Floyd Dryden Parent Group.