Visiting Artists Share Their Inspiration

by Anna Ura, Friends School Art Teacher

Last week was full of extraordinary opportunities for Friends School’s young artists, with THREE visiting artists and organizations coming in to share their work and processes with us. 

First, at the middle school, we welcomed visual artist Chelsea Gilmore to the all-school assembly. Chelsea is an installation artist and muralist. She often repurposes commonly discarded objects such as single-use plastics to create whimsical installation works. Her process is wonderfully obsessive and requires countless hours of work to complete. Chelsea begins by sourcing materials that would otherwise be considered waste, such as large-scale plastic printed billboards utilized and discarded locally. One day’s worth of these discarded plastic sheets was enough to fill her vehicle and become the source material for a large-scale installation.

Driven by her love of nature and her desire to bring attention to the impacts of plastic waste on our environment, the forms in Chelsea’s work are often inspired by microbiology and her own nature photography. The repetitive forms she creates from discarded materials consider shadow and light, as well as the space they will be installed in. Some of these forms also appear in Chelsea’s large-scale murals.

Over the next few weeks, Chelsea will be coming to Friends Middle School to work with students in the Art and Activism elective, along with art teacher, Anna Ura. With her guidance, we will complete a collaborative installation with the aim of bringing attention to pollution, waste, and their impact on our planet. Like Chelsea, young activist artists will consider how to utilize repurposed materials to bring light to issues that are important to us. We look forward to sharing this work with our community as it comes to life.

Our next visit was from mural artist Lindee Zimmer, who shared her work and processes with our Art and Activism students at the middle school. Lindee’s prolific art practice includes impressively large-scale murals such as a four-story building on Larimer Street in Denver. Her work considers issues concerning social justice such as the Black Lives Matter movement, food scarcity and production, and gender identity. Inspired by the French Art Nouveau movement, Lindee’s designs are full of whimsical line-based graphics and inspiration from nature. Lindee gave a nod to street artists who came before her such as Shepherd Fairey who she said “paved the way” for mural artists like her. She said that we are seeing more mural art globally than ever before, and this is certainly evident here in Boulder, particularly after the recent Street Wise Mural Festival, in which Lindee was a featured artist. Art and Activist students were full of great questions and left her talk visibly inspired by Lindee’s work.

At South campus, fourth grade artists were invited to participate in The Color Wheel Project, led by the T2 Dance Company. The Color Wheel Project works with local elementary art programs, encouraging students to submit artwork on the theme “color”. Selected works become the inspiration for choreographed dances which will be performed at the Dairy Arts Center this May. Two visiting dancers from T2 came to Friends to lead fourth grade artists through the process of turning a visual artwork into a dance. After creating simple drawings of two objects and one emotion, we were taught how to turn an image into a dance move. Stringing several of these movements together creates a dance “phrase”, which we had the opportunity to practice and perform for the group. Each of us—this art teacher included—had a blast and broke a serious sweat while doing so. In the next art rotation, fourth grade artists will continue working on monochromatic landscapes that we will then submit to The Color Wheel Project for consideration. 

Friends art teacher, Anna Ura’s solo exhibition Talisman at The Boulder Creative Collective was visited by many in our community. Anna has exhibited her art in galleries throughout the United States and in Florence, Italy. She has been awarded numerous grants and her work has been featured in publications including Ten by Ten magazine, and the book Exactly, featuring San Francisco-based artists. Her work can be viewed at

Challenging minds. Nurturing spirits. Honoring individuality.