The sixth, seventh and eighth grade students have produced twenty colorful paintings to represent their thinking on a handful of books celebrating New Mexico's cultural history that they read in Pierce's class.
The books include "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko, "Sing Down the Moon" by Scott O'Dell, "The Staircase" by Ann Rinaldi and other works that explore cultural heritage and contemporary practices of the Southwest.
Pierce wanted to challenge her students to delve deeper into their reading and produce something other than the conventional five-paragraph essay.
She asked them to write summaries of the ideas and themes in the works and then develop those ideas with paint and ink. Her one stipulation was that they not depict any specific characters or scenes from their reading.
The results show their thinking on the themes and symbols in the books, often in abstract ways using paint on paper.
"When I last visited Taos, I came across an intriguing artist who did cut-away pieces that exposed the interiors and gave a completely fresh take on the idea of storytelling and how it is perceived," she said. "I wanted the kids to go to a different place in their brains to show their thinking on the material.
Alissa Upton who is an art teacher at Mosaic spent many mornings with Pierce's students helping them explore how to symbolically address ideas while changing the typical process - and expectations.
"This was cool," Upton said. "It just shows how approaching critical thinking on literature can be fun and allow the kids to shine."
The students will have a complete experience arranging and managing the evening at Crash Music. They will be busy serving hors d'oeuvres and reading poetry.
Kaylee Bell and Riley Merritt say that reading their poems is more like play than English-class drudgery.
"I like writing and putting my thoughts down on paper," Merritt, 12, said. He will read his poem, "The Perfect Little World." One line sums up the class' potential for positive growth and self-expression "I can imagine anything."
The reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Crash Music at (505) 427-6748.