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Students collaborate with visiting artist and educator

May 31, 2016

Students from the Middleburgh Jr./Sr. High School sculpture class have been working in collaboration with students from nearby high school art classes and puppet artist Andy Gaukel on a project in conjunction with the West Fulton Arts Center.

West Fulton Arts is a not-for-profit organization that brings world-class professional arts events to the region. One of its biggest events is the upcoming West Fulton Puppet Festival (PDF), an annual event held each summer.

Part of the mission of the organization is to provide arts education to children, and in line with their undertaking, Mr. Gaukel was invited to participate in a weeklong residency at Middleburgh Jr./Sr. High School to work with students in Teresa Norfolk’s sculpture class.

Originally from Kentucky, Mr. Gaukel has more than 20 years of experience working as a puppeteer, actor and director in television, off-Broadway and regional theatre. As an actor, his credits include A Christmas Carol at Actors Theatre of Louisville, KY and Much Ado About Nothing and The Merry Wives of Windsor, among others, at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company where he was a member for two years. As a puppeteer, he has toured with Madcap Puppets and performed in theatres and festivals across the country. Mr. Gaukel founded his own puppet touring company, The Wee Giant Puppet Company, in Glasgow, Scotland. As an educator specializing in theatre and puppetry, Mr. Gaukel has also worked with Tron Theatre Company, TAG Theatre Company, Theatre Nemo, Puppet Animation Scotland and Fife Council in Scotland and the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Kentucky Science Center, Alliance Theatre and The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati. In April 2013, Gaukel undertook a Creation Residency at the Institut International de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières, France. Gaukel is a graduate of the University of Kentucky's Department of Theatre and has a Master in Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Theatre from Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, Rhode Island.

Mr. Gaukel's visit provided an unforgettable opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience and insight about what goes into a large-scale art project, and, more broadly, what it's like to work tirelessly in the art industry. The students and Mr. Gaukel worked together throughout the span of the week—both during class hours and after school—to create a giant Chinese dragon puppet that will debut on Friday, June 8 during the opening night of the West Fulton Puppet Festival. The gargantuan red and yellow puppet will be handled by multiple students and was fashioned primarily from cardboard and fabric elements.

The West Fulton Puppet Festival (PDF) will be held on Friday, July 8 and Saturday, July 9 in West Fulton Park. Community members are welcomed to attend and see the students' creation come to life.

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