When artist Laura Comito of Carroll, Iowa, creates images they are usually in sizes suitable for framing. Recently she was challenged to create artwork for a 12-foot trailer. Laura created four compositions to cover the exterior of one of the Conservation Station trailers.
The Conservation Station fleet includes three mobile learning centers that travel the state teaching Iowans of all ages about water and soil quality. Each Conservation Station contains a rainfall simulator that shows the effects of rainfall on different land surfaces. The Conservation Stations visit schools, outdoor classrooms, county fairs, farmers’ markets and festivals.
Comito created the artwork for the Conservation Station 3—or CS3 for short. The Water Rocks! team will bring it to schools to teach students from kindergarten through high school about watersheds, water, soil and wetlands—and that water really does rock! Students participate in a variety of age-appropriate hands-on activities to show the science and wonder of water.
Part of the niche of Water Rocks! is the interweaving of art and music with science. The arts are integral when discussing the importance and beauty of water and other natural resources. One side of the trailer depicts Brushy Creek in Webster County. The kids in the picture are enjoying the lake, having caught a fish and fireflies. The front of the trailer shows a pelican in flight over treetops. The other side of the trailer shows children in town, playing in a sprinkler in their backyard—something most kids can connect with. The Conservation Dogs are represented on the back doors.
“I wanted the outside of the Conservation Station to be used as a teaching tool as well,” says Comito. “Kids need to relate to the art and the educators can use the pictures as they teach.” The pictures of the lake and the sprinkler can be used as conversation starters about water quality and where water comes from.
Comito’s artwork for the CS3 has a playful, child-friendly appeal to it, using bright colors and varied textures. She uses several media to create her art: handmade papers, colored pencil, acrylic and watercolor paints and found objects are layered to create the images.
“Children’s book author Eric Carle is one of my favorite artists,” says Comito. Carle uses the same techniques in his illustrations for his books including The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The original compositions were created smaller, but in the same scale as the trailer dimensions. Comito had the pieces scanned so they could be enlarged to fit the trailer without losing much of the detail. She says that the originals are 18 x 30 inches—a lot smaller than the 12-foot trailer.