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NEWELL | Artist and sculptor Darin Wolf, in the second half of his grant sponsored program in the Newell school asked Anna Erk’s social studies classes if they knew the names of the Ninja Turtles. Enthusiastic hands went up and names were shouted out.

“Donatello, Leonardo, Michael Angelo and Rafael,” the sixth grade students shouted out almost in chorus. Huh? What do Ninja Turtles and art and history all have in common might have been the question of those listening in on this history lesson in a Newell classroom on Dec. 4.

Wolf, who helped the Newell students back in the fall create ornaments for the South Dakota Christmas tree at the White House, was back to finish what he started. He began with an adult education night on Dec. 3 where he shared how history and art go hand in hand and also helped those attending create some special sculptures. He spent the four days from Dec. 3 through Dec. 6 working with the students in the classroom and the HOPE after school program.

Wolf took on Erk’s sixth, seventh and eighth grade history classes during the afternoon and on one particular day was relating with things the students understood. He shared with the students how the Ninja Turtles were all named after famous artists. Donetello was called the Father of Sculpting. His theme was ‘no more stiff statues,’ according to Wolf. Leonardo was named after DaVinci and was a painter, sculptor and inventor. Wolf talked to the student about how many of DaVinci’s inventions were still in use today.

When he got to Michael Angelo and shared with the students that this artist was the creator of the famous ‘David’ statue and ‘Moses’ and that only two sets of bronzes of these statues were made and that one set of these famous statues reside in Sioux Falls, the kids got pretty excited.

“You need to go see it,” said Wolf.

For those interested, in 1971 inventor Thomas Fawick donated the replica statues to the city of Sioux Falls. Moses can be found at Augustana College while David was placed in Fawick Park.

The students were also impressed by the story Wolf told of how long and arduous was the task by Michael Angelo of painting of the Sistine Chapel.

He ended up sharing about Rafael and how Rafael ended up like those people he ‘hung with.’ Wolf reminded students that they should choose their friends carefully based on what Rafael went through.

Wolf was in the Newell district as part of the Artists in Schools grant the HOPE program received through the South Dakota Arts Council and the Department of Tourism.

Wolf directed a workshop styled sculpting session for the adults and brought the same focus to the classroom and the after school program.

As for the ornaments created by the students last fall, they are now hanging on the South Dakota tree and one is on a tree in the White House. You can see each of the ornaments at this website

Wolf can be contact through his website at or by phone at 605-362-5256.

Newell HOPE assistant director Sabrina Harmon said the students, both youngsters and adults, had a great time with their sculpting and learned how art and history walk hand in hand.

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