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Briarcliff Fifth-Graders, Teachers Show Creativity With Clay

Teachers at Todd Elementary School in Briarcliff Manor make Native American-inspired clay pots with the help of artist-in-residence Cliff Mendelson, left; and art teacher Paul Villanueva, standing.
Teachers at Todd Elementary School in Briarcliff Manor make Native American-inspired clay pots with the help of artist-in-residence Cliff Mendelson, left; and art teacher Paul Villanueva, standing. Photo Credit: Contributed

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- Briarcliff fifth-graders got their hands really, really dirty ... and not only did their teachers not mind, they got in on the messy action, too.

Todd Elementary School students studying Native American culture and history were recently treated to “A Day with Clay” – a pot-making project run by artist-in-residence Cliff Mendelson.

Todd teachers also had fun getting their hands covered with clay, the potter said.

Mendelson and Todd art teacher Paul Villanueva challenged students and teachers to use their imaginations.

They examined traditional pots painted red, black and white; and used beads and other objects to decorate their own creations.

“You can make some amazing designs,” Mendelson told students as they researched symbols and patterns. “The Native Americans have such a rich culture.”

The pots were fashioned out of self-drying clay and after about 10 days or so, their makers will paint them, coat them with decoupage sealer, and take them home.

“(The Native Americans) were very into symmetry and round objects,” Mendelson explained.

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