Kenmore Middle School art teacher Jeff Wilson admires one of his students’ lanterns. (Rachel Jones)

You’ll find paintbrushes, glue sticks and fresh white paper waiting to be scribbled on in the art room at Arlington’s Kenmore Middle School. But you’ll also see wood planks lying against the walls, sawdust covering the floor, 3-D printers and a cabinet of power tools that would make a carpenter envious.

The technology-and-arts-focused school embraces the idea that art doesn’t stand alone — instead, it incorporates every subject area, including science and math.

For their most recent project, Kenmore seventh-grade art students created a three-part art presentation to make lanterns, using paint, photography and sculpture.

Art teacher Jeff Wilson took his students on a field trip to the Phillips Collection art museum in Washington. There they saw works by 20th-century American artist Man Ray.

The artist, who was born Emmanuel Radnitsky but adopted the name Man Ray, is famous for the process he used to create art. Instead of representing what inspired him in just one way, Man Ray would produce the same image in different art forms. So if he saw a beautiful flower, he wouldn’t just paint it. He would paint that flower, then photograph it and then create a sculpture.

Emma Wosje, a student at Kenmore Middle School, describes the lantern project to the Phillips Collection's Rachel Goldberg. (Jeff Wilson)

“He showed how through all these different lenses it was still the same vision,” explained Rachel Jones, a recent student teacher at Kenmore.

Jones said the idea that lanterns have a functional purpose appealed to the students, so “I found a way to incorporate the Man Ray process,” Jones said. “I think they got the best of both worlds.”

Julianna Ditta, 12, said she was inspired by following Man Ray’s process to create her lantern project.

“I did the same thing, so I feel like I’m walking in his footsteps,” she said.

Man Ray had a style that used mathematical, geometric shapes.

“He was really interested in the composition and the color and the lighting, and how he could manipulate those as an artist,” said Meagan Estep of the Phillips Collection. “So he photographed the shapes and then painted them.”

To make their lanterns, the students started with a painting, transformed it into a sculpture, then took a photograph of their creation and edited the photo using Google Docs to create a different piece of artwork.

“You take something you made with your hands and then put it on the computer and change it into something else that you made,” said Emma Wosje, 13. “So it’s really fun because you use more than one concept of art, like technology.”

Wilson said that Man Ray liked using technology, and he liked how all the different artworks interrelate. “He was about cutting-edge experimentation,” Wilson said.

Kenmore encourages similar experimentation. Students recently used 3-D printers to create movable action figures. In a previous art project, they designed, built and painted brightly colored tables.

“I want to be an engineer when I grow up,” Julianna said. “I love to draw and do art, so combining my two favorite things into this was awesome.”

Sarah Polus

Learn more

See the lanterns made by Kenmore seventh-graders and check out the inspiration for their work.

What: Kenmore lantern exhibit at Ballston Common Mall.

Where: 4238 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington (exhibit is near Glebe Road entrance).

When: Until May 7.

What: “Man Ray — Human Equations” at the Phillips Collection.

Where: 1600 21st Street NW.

When: Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 7 p.m. (Thursday open until 8:30 p.m.), until May 10.

How much: $12 adults, age 18 and younger free.

For more information: