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Students create their state

Projects to be made into a book representing all 50 states

March 8, 2010
By EMILIE NELSON, Messenger staff writer

Students at Feelhaver and Duncombe Elementary Schools will have the opportunity to see some of their artwork in print when the "Create Your State" project's book is finalized later this year.

The projects are a part of Meg Beshey's fourth-grade art classes at the schools and will be submitted to Kris Dunham, a fourth-grade teacher in Austin, Texas whose class started the nationwide art project inspired by Damian Priour's Texas Chair Project.

Priour's project incorporated artists from around the U.S. He mailed out 100 chairs and those who received a chair had to create another that would fit into the box in which Priour's chair was shipped.

Dunham's class spun Priour's project into another.

Her class first created the shape of the state of Texas and then, decorated it with items that represented the state. They photographed and e-mailed it to classes across the nation, inviting other classes to do the same.

With the help of elementary schools across the country, including Feelhaver and Duncombe, Dunham will create a collaborative book that will feature artwork representing all 50 states.

Named "The Iowa Project" by Beshey's classes, students decorated a 4-feet-tall by 4-feet-wide wooden replica of the state - made by Kit Hovey of Hovey Construction - with Iowa related drawings and products.

"Before the students did the project, we talked about Iowa and the things that represent our state," Beshey said. "They came up with things like barns, corn, tractors and fields. And when they came to class they all picked an image to color."

Both schools created an Iowa replica with its own theme.

Feelhaver students focused on a "Made in Iowa" theme highlighting images of tractors, barns and ears of corn. Students also pasted pieces of other Iowa-made products to the art work, such as buttons, popcorn and washing machine parts.

The project allowed students to learn more about their state, Beshey said.

"I knew mostly everything came from Iowa, but I didn't know washing machines were made here," said Anya Hamilton, a fourth-grader at Feelhaver Elementary.

"I didn't know they made buttons," said Gina Kramer, one of Hamilton's classmates.

The theme for the Duncombe students' project examined the textures and colors found in Iowa.

Once the book is published, copies will be given to the schools to sell as a fundraiser, Beshey said.

The state of Iowa was represented by Fort Dodge students and a class from Four Mile Elementary School in Pleasant Hill.

"The kids are really excited about this project," Beshey said. "It was a lot of fun for them to work on."

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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