Murphy Elementary: Michele Sera & Gina Lee Robbins

Earth+ Sky+ Perspective+ Scale

How do our individual perspectives and understanding of scale affect the way we experience the world and its elements?

– Murphy Elementary, Teacher Michele Sera and Teaching Artist Gina Lee Robbins

Students were asked to create a drawing of the earth and then point in the direction of “up.”  This revealed that the understanding of the concept of “up” is entirely dependent on one’s perspective relative to the earth.

Students collaborated to create their own abstract forms, first by using 3D materials like wooden dowels, straws and cardboard to create line, or “draw.”  Students were challenged to think about different ways to orient or present their sculptures as the forms progressed.


Our second project involved creating solid abstract forms by combining several forms to make a larger abstract form that they covered with papier-mâché, and painted with acrylic paint.  Students were encouraged to challenge their usual perspective and expectation, again being urged to rotate their sculptures or regard them from a different orientation as the objects developed.


Our final project involved looking at microscopic molecules of matter, and considering them on a different scale.   The students replicated the microscopic forms into sculptures that could be held in their hands, using terra cotta clay.  This portion of the project was interrupted by the restrictions put into place because of the global pandemic, including school closing.

Just before the school closed the kiln was started and the molecule sculptures were bisqued. During the pandemic, we received permission to return to the school to retrieve the fired sculptures and glaze materials so that we could distribute them to students for glazing at home.


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Sometimes your perception of your creation can change during the process of creation.

The first time they will see them complete is if they visit the schoolyard this summer.  For the other sculpture work, students learned to think innovatively about how you might experience an object, that sometimes the way you intend it to be perceived is not how it is ultimately perceived at all.