Auburn Junior High Teachers collaborate to create student art for Both Ends of the Rainbow


When art teacher Kristy Flanigan moved from Genesee Elementary School to Auburn Junior High School last September, she found a friend as well as a co-worker in fellow art teacher Kasha Fletcher.

“I’m all about sharing, to make Kristy’s load easier during the transition,” Fletcher said. “Switching from building to building can be difficult.”

“And I was switching grade levels, too,” Flanigan added.

Since they share teaching seventh graders – Fletcher teaches 10 classes of seventh-graders while Flanigan teachers six classes – they decided to collaborate on projects so the students were getting the same level and type of instruction.

The fruits of those efforts can be seen in the upcoming Both Ends of the Rainbow exhibit at the Schweinfurth Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn. The exhibit, which features more than 1,000 artworks from students and seniors who live in Cayuga County or are members of the Schweinfurth, opens Sunday, Jan. 27, with a student reception from noon to 5 p.m.

Among the artwork from Auburn Junior High School are collaborative projects between the two teachers, as well as other teachers at the school. One of the projects, a cube mural (detail shown above), involved students of both teachers creating cubes that were pieced together in one large piece.

“We talked about line variety, and the students had to make one side dense and the other less dense,” Flanigan said. The third side was solid black. Each teacher has more than 200 students, so there were plenty of leftovers that Fletcher said will be used to make other murals to be displayed at the junior high school.

For another joint project, students created black-and-white line art, cut it up into tangram pieces, and built pictures out of them. Each class then voted on their favorite one, which was etched into wood by the tech teacher with the school’s laser cutter, Fletcher said. A selection of the tangram art is included in Both Ends of the Rainbow.

A third project was conducted in collaboration with social studies and Spanish teachers at the school, Flanigan said. The students created Dia de los Muertos books while they were learning in social studies class about the Aztec traditions that informed the Mexican custom of honoring the dead every year on Nov. 1. Spanish teachers taught about the Mexican tradition at the same time.

Flanigan said future collaborations are possible, including with English teachers. “Eighth-grade students are designing board games, and they need to prepare instructions that are clear and concise,” she said. “Maybe next year we can collaborate with English teachers on that.”

Fletcher said she is excited to work with the Schweinfurth to display the students’ artwork. “I gave one student a notice that his artwork was going to be in Both Ends, and his whole face lit up,” she said. “He’s a quiet student, and he just sat there looking at the letter for a minute. I learned later that he went right to the office to tell his mother, he was so excited.

“That was the sweetest moment,” Fletcher concluded. “That’s why I love teaching.”

Flanigan smiled and nodded in agreement.

If you go…

What: Both Ends of the Rainbow 2019 and Three Lakes Sampler, two exhibits that feature more than 1,000 pieces of artwork from students in Cayuga County schools, preschool programs, and Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, and senior citizens
When: Exhibit runs Jan. 27 to March 10, 2019
Where: Schweinfurth Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn
Student opening: Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019
Senior opening: 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019
Cost: Free
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays
Details: For more information, link to

Photo captions:

TOP: Detail from the mural made out of student-drawn cubes

CENTER: Students in each class voted on the best tangram, and that work was etched into wood for display at Both Ends of the Rainbow.

BOTTOM: Teachers Kristy Flanigan and Kasha Fletcher worked with social studies and Spanish teachers to have students create these Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead books.