Student Paintings Featured at Cornell Gallery

Artwork produced by the Tualatin Valley Junior Academy students, in Hillsboro, Ore., will be featured at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology gallery in Ithaca, N.Y., this fall. The art show opened Aug. 13, with a silent auction to support TVJA's art and science programs. The paintings will remain on exhibit through mid-December.

The quality of student artwork submitted by TVJA students for publication in last year's Classroom Birdscope caught the eye of Jennifer Fee, CLO's BirdSleuth project leader. Fee commissioned students to create paintings of birds currently being studied by CLO scientists. Nineteen students in grades 7–10, directed by Toni Kahler, TVJA art instructor, took on the task with great enthusiasm. "I was so excited when I found out I would be drawing, texturing and painting the Yellow-headed Parrot," says Melinda Swanson, eighth-grade student. "I couldn't wait to make the bird my own on the canvas!"

Student participation in this project influenced their perceptions and attitudes toward birds and science. Chelsea Fritzler, eighth-grade student, says, "The experience was very cool. I had never heard of the Superb Starling until I started working on this project. I think it is a beautiful bird and very unique. Now I care about birds and actually notice them!" Kiana Villegas, seventh-grade student, says, "When I found out scientists were studying these birds, I wondered what they did all the way over in New York. I would love to go and study birds with them."

This unusual combination of art and science adds a deeper dimension to the show by encouraging viewers not only to enjoy the rich visual experience, but to become informed about species conservation. You may view photos of all nineteen student bird paintings and learn more about the BirdSleuth science program at

September 01, 2009 / Oregon Conference