Students Get Creative With Soapstone Art

Students Get Creative With Soapstone Art

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This is a soapstone whale sculpture created by an eighth grade student in art teacher Aaron Bogushefsky’s classroom. (Photo courtesy of JASM Consulting)

By MADDY VITALE

Ocean City Intermediate School students got creative and artistic with soapstone sculptures.

Art teacher Aaron Bogushefsky led the kids in an exciting assignment that showcased some very talented eighth grade students.

One female student’s whale artwork was so great that Bogushefsky wanted to share it, he said in a press release.

“You can see her finished whale and the stone behind is where it all started,” Bogushefsky said. “The sense of accomplishment is off the charts in the art room from all students. Students are shocked at what they can do.”

The students created sculptures from two to four pound deep water soapstones.

“The stones are soft enough to use chisels and files and then they sand them to create a polished finish. Students love the hands-on feel and creating an organic shape from a rough stone,” the teacher explained.

He said it is “amazing to watch” how motivated the students were throughout the project as they went from rough-chiseling to fine-tune sanding.

“Students are quick to get to work and work the entire class, excited to see their progress from one class. These sculptures take about 10 to 14 class periods to finish, so students learn some artistic stamina along the way,” Bogushefsky noted. “The most gratifying time is when the students wet-sand their stones and the true colors of the stone are revealed.”

All stones start as a light gray color, but upon wet-sanding they display their true colors from turquoise, blues, speckled grays, greens and black with gold flecks, he added.

Perhaps, he said, the most important part of the process is the sense of accomplishment the students feel as they craft their soapstone sculptures, he said.

“Students feel it when they finish and understand that they have made their sculpture with their own hands,” he said. “Students are so proud of their work and they have a unique piece of art that will last forever. Many sculptures decorate mantles and bedrooms once they are taken home.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when Ocean City’s students are learning through the hybrid model of two days in-person instruction and three days virtual or all virtual, it is important to highlight students’ artistic and creative skills, Bogushefsky explained.

Since we are in a hybrid schooling scenario, hands-on projects hold great value and meaning to students,” he said. “Students need to realize that when shown how, they can create wonderful things. Once the students see the process, they can link their abilities with their vision. That part is so gratifying for me as an educator. It is the student who does not think they can do the project that is most surprised and satisfied at the end when they realize that they can indeed do it.”

Bogushefsky said that he did a soapstone project when he was in high school.

“Upon seeing that it was no longer taught, I wanted to reintroduce it into my curriculum. Eighth-graders possess the skill and patience to make this project a success,” he pointed out. “Every year I am amazed to see how students push themselves and the new and innovative ideas they have.”