‘Imaginary Creatures in DC Habitats’ at Hill Center’s Young Artists Gallery

Tyler students designing their imaginary creatures. Photo: Amanda Swift

Amanda Swift’s second-grade art students at Tyler Elementary School (1001 G St. SE) have created something truly special – dozens of tiny worlds inhabited by unique creatures of their own imagination. A Tyler parent, an artist herself, had created “fishbowls” as part of her own show. When that show ended, she donated them to the Tyler art space. Swift was so inspired, she knew she “wanted students to somehow incorporate their ideas with that of the parent's original work of art” and decided to “reinvent them with the imagination of children … to give them a second life … presenting the students with something challenging and related to what they have learned in science.”

Each student was assigned a plastic bubble containing a picture of a location in the District as the background. Then it was up to him or her to imagine what sort of animal might live there and how it would survive based on information provided in the photo. What could it find to eat and drink? How would it move and protect itself? In an art museum, “it might eat paint, drink water from the fountains, protect itself by camouflage, and move by floating,” to quote Swift. Another student had a picture of an office building and had to consider what sorts of things could be found in it. This was challenging for a student who had never been to an office building. After the initial brainstorming process, students had a wonderful time drawing out their creatures and articulating how they are adapted to their habitat.

“I liked the project because I like doing art,” explained Antwan.

“I liked creating a weird animal. My animal has five arms on its stomach, eyes on its stomach, and it floats on clouds to move,” said Indya.

“The hardest part of the project was putting stickers on the front of the habitat. The easiest part was drawing the imaginary creature,” declared Ofelia.

“Imaginary Creatures” will hang in the Young Artists Gallery on the ground floor at Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, through the end of February. Swift found it “astonishing to see young imaginations take over the room when creating the art.” She encourages you to “come out to see the imaginary animals come to life in their habitats.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to see animals you can’t see anywhere else.