Dexter Philip Oxford, III "Oxie"
Artist: Bear Tavern Elementary – Joslyn Johnson and Student Artists
Sponsor: A Friend of Bear Tavern Elementary
The inspiration behind the Bear Tavern Elementary School ox was the school colors (blue and white) and several art projects that students have enjoyed completing this year and in years past. The design pulls mostly from projects that have studied the Element of Art: Line.
This past school year, students in 4th and 5th grades each explored line designs called “zentangles” in projects that allowed students to explore line designs in a relaxing, creative manner. “It is important to me to see students make their mark and expand on it to a point they never imagined. My 4th and 5th graders did that this year in two totally different projects- one involving animals, and the other a still life”. In 2011, Mrs. Johnson created a temporary, collaborative installation at school by having students take a few moments each class period to create a simple doodle using Sharpie marker on Post-It notes. What resulted was a colorful, hard-not-to-lean-in-and-inspect “Doodle Wall” of her students little drawings. The mix of freestyle drawing and utilizing learned knowledge of LINE yielded the Bear Tavern ox.
The ox was jump-started during the Bear Tavern annual art show this year and called on the school community to jump in and “help paint the ox” which was later named Dexter Philip Oxford, III or simply “Oxie”. The name is a combination of names suggested by students.
This ox was sold during the online auction for $1,700.
About the Artist
Something about large-scale collaborative murals is in her veins as Joslyn Johnson has worked with students and staff to create well over a dozen murals in her tenure as an art teacher for the Hopewell Valley Regional Schools. Eleven of those murals have been created at Bear Tavern School where she has been the art teacher since 2010. In her first year at Bear Tavern, she challenged the entire school community to collect colored, plastic bottle caps to create a piece of true “green art” relying on recyclables and creativity to create the beloved 12’x9’ bottle cap mural at the entrance to the school which cost a mere $120 to create! Prior to teaching at Bear Tavern where she earned the 2014 Teacher of the Year Award, Johnson taught at Timberlane Middle School and ceramics at a high school out of district.
Johnson received a bachelor’s degree in art education from The College of New Jersey. Beyond creating murals, particularly mosaics, she enjoys the challenge of using recyclables and uncommon materials for a twist. Bear Tavern students created a depiction of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” using keys and locks to illustrate movement and show tonal value.
Johnson enjoys spending time outdoors with her family biking, canoeing and playing soccer.