SRJC Art Students Created the New Major Exhibit of the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

SRJC Art Stduents: Amanda Vivrette, Kegan Chay, Megan Lohse, Emily Ramirez, Grace Moore
SRJC students: Amanda Vivrette, Kegan Chay, Megan Lohse, Emily Ramirez, Grace Moore

June 11, 2024, Santa Rosa - During his 36 years of teaching at SRJC, artist, craftsman, inventor, and SRJC Art Department faculty Michael McGinnis has dedicated a significant amount of time to helping his students get practical real world experience in addition to classroom instruction by getting involved in community-based sculptural and design projects and funded exhibits.

One of the latest projects involving SRJC’s Sculpture and 3D-Design students is the newly redone Dino Dental Clinic at the Children's Museum of Sonoma County (CMOSC). The project just had its grand opening on June 1st, 2024.

McGinnis has collaborated with CMOSC for many years and the Museum’s founder, Collette Michaud even took McGinnis’ classes, along with her son, to gain their own experience in 3D thinking. Over the past eight years, McGinnis worked with CMOSC to commission Sculpture and 3D-Design students to create various artistic pieces.

“I am immensely grateful to Michael and the many SRJC students who have contributed over the past twelve years to the unique experiences at CMOSC,” said Collette Michaud, CEO and Founder. “Under Michael's direction, they have crafted museum-quality exhibits at a cost manageable for the Museum, which relies entirely on the generosity of donors to fund new projects. I am continually impressed by the complexity and difficulty of the students' work and their unwavering commitment to excellence.”

Previously, five SRJC students created 8’ tall sculpted and cast cement columns for the outside of CMOSC. They were designed via the concept of tessellation, where one sculpted and cast 3-D tile is repeated and interconnected visually around the column. These column sculptures represent many visuals, including honeycombs, vines with leaves, native butterflies, and flowers. The latest one integrated local and indigenous imagery, in collaboration with local tribal representatives.

One of the first projects with CMOSC, about 8 years ago, was done by two students who created a life-size crocodile named Kyle, with human teeth for the dental clinic exhibit. It included built-in sensors that allowed the teeth to be “X-rayed.” The Spring 2024 semester’s projects included revamping the dental clinic at CMOSC. For the revised space, “Dino Dental,” the two former students who created Kyle were commissioned to create a new character, based on their original molds. The new character was a dinosaur called “Izzy”.

In addition to Izzy, five Spring 2024 students created a giant mouth/teeth model for the dental clinic and a bonus “tooth chair”. McGinnis said, “They have been using materials and processes completely new to them. None have done carving like this before or worked with foam, fiberglass, and resin, or the tools necessary to do the work. Students used the table saw, band saw, wood carving chisels, power grinding tools, sanders, lots of sandpaper, and all of the tools necessary for making accurately measured and mixed materials.”

The students modeled the teeth after samples borrowed from the SRJC’s Dental Program and studied castings of their own mouths. Using enlarging techniques, they drew each tooth to a giant scale and made clay maquettes to help them visualize the large teeth. After the individual teeth were sculpted, they sized the gums to match. 

McGinnis said, “This was a great portfolio builder and an experience that gives students exposure to real-world usage of sculptural thinking and helps the community. CMOSC, in particular, is an enormously valuable resource for Sonoma County, as they are unique in providing children and parents with a safe place to explore, experience, learn, and dream.”

SRJC Student Megan Lohse.
SRJC student Megan Lohse


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