The three dozen students at Gerlach K-12 came back to a school with a new look.  Last year, a group of artists and teachers known as Artemisia Tridentata spent time teaching the students there about art and taking inspiration from the world around them.

"Our purpose in life is to bring meaningful art experiencees to rural communities, communities that don't have access to the arts," said artist Lauren Gandolfo.  "The students and community have been the most rewarding aspect of all this;  their excitement, their interest and hands-on experience has been incredible."

Assistant Principal Stacey Black knew it would be a unique experienc for the students there.

"We started talking and immediately figured out this is going to be amazing," she said.  "We have the same shared interest of bringing art into rural areas, we have all these kids who love to do art projects and we love exposing them to things  beyond their classroom walls."

The artists took the students out to the school's backyard for inspiration.

"We celebrate the local culture and one of the things they have here in their backyard is clay," said artist Ann Clark.  "So we walked them out to the Playa, we dug up clay that's right from the Playa , and we came every month to create something with clay and glazes.   We did some work with the potter's wheel but we also wanted them to collaborate and work together.  So we made pieces that would go together and represent something that is important to them, things that they think about every day."

The ceramics pieces were made into totem poles that were placed around the entrance to the school. The students had the chance to see the finished project on the first day of school this week.

"I was so happy that all of our art projects were there," said Mily, a third grader. "It was amazing; I loved it!"

There's another permanent piece of art on display in front of the school as well; a bench made from casts of Colombian Mammoth bones dug from the Black Rock Desert in the 1990's.

"I was an archaeologist before I was an art teacher and one of the projects I had done was working in the Black Rock Desert digging on a Mammoth bone site," said artist Molly Moore.   "So when we knew we were coming to Gerlach,  we were brainstorming some ideas about what we wanted to talk to the kids about, and we brought up the bones.  I've had these molds for 30 years and so we started playing around with the idea of how we could make more casts of these Mammoth bones and show the kids how exciting this whole place is out here on the desert."

The molds were cast in cement and form a unique piece of art that's meant to be interacted with.

 "We were able to cast the bones in a shop in Reno and brought them out here," artist Ted Demolski said. "We built  a form to hold the bones in place to look as the desert dirt would.  I think it turned out great; I'd like to see people on it taking pictures for generations to come."

Just like the totem poles will remind future generations of the students that walked these halls near the Playa.

"Seeing this art, it makes me feel good," said Senior Christopher Stocklas. "It shows that I was here and this was my school."

More information:   https://artemisia3.org/