Latest News – November 28

Saguache Students Fire It Up in Telluride!

Students from Mounatin Valley School in Saguache were among those  who attended the Telluride Fire Festival held earlier this month in Telluride, Colo. The weekend program of of science, technology, engineering, ART, and math, and created a fiery masterpiece.  The nine-foot tall, three-headed, fire-spewing sculpture was made almost entirely of found objects welded into a fabulous creature with larger-than-life hands reaching toward the sky.

Teacher Students.jpg: from left to right—Andy McKim, clay instructor from Moffat Consolidated School District 2, Ryker  Poor, Taleb Nelson, Ida Green, Casey Groom, Alyssa Chavez, Jodeelee Rigdon

Teacher Andy McKim, clay instructor from Moffat Consolidated School District 2 poses with students: from left to right:, Ryker Poor, Taleb Nelson, Ida Green, Casey Groom, Alyssa Chavez, Jodeelee Rigdon after making the three heads from clay for their fiery beast which will be on exhibit at the Telluride Fire Festival in January 2017.

Students were treated to dinner at the home of Erin Ries and Chris Myers on Friday evening where they met with mentor artists and teachers. “It was great opportunity to share ideas before jumping into the creative process,” explained Suzanne Ewy, Executive Director of Coldharbour Institute, a collaborating partner of the event. The next day, teams were formed and one group of kids joined forces at the Ah Haa School for the Arts to create the multiple heads of the sculpture out of clay for what was decided (Friday evening) to be a three-headed “being”.

The remaining creators went to an old abandoned mine, home to the artist collaborative called Deep Creek Experimental, to find suitable objects to weld the “body”, which became a two piece installation that included a fire cauldron with skeletal hands as well as a propane fired “poofer” that will release fire puffs from the multiple heads of the creature.

Saguache students who particiapted included: Alex Willard Alpine Achievers Initiative/AmeriCorps member; and Mountain Valley School’s Alyssa Chavez, Jodeelee Rigdon, Taleb Nelson, Ryker Poor, and Casey Groom. Well-done! 

The fiery sculpture is to be exhibited at the January 20 – 22 Telluride Fire Festival. The Festival has applied for grants to support bringing all the students back to Telluride for the premier of their special sculpture. The Festival then wishes to have the sculpture travel to each of the student groups’ communities after January 22—Moffat, Crestone, Saguache, Gunnison, and Norwood, CO.
The student workshop was made possible, in part, through grants from Saguache County, Coldharbour Institute, and a GoFundMe Campaign. “We also could not have done this without the tremendous generosity from the Telluride community,” remarked Ewy.

Students (left to right): Alex Willard & Chris Myers in The Mine. Photo: Telluride Fire Festival.

In The Mine (left to right): Saguache student Alex Willard & Teacher Chris Myers help with the three-headed fiery beast creation. Photo: Telluride Fire Festival.

Artists, Experts, and Teachers

The artist/teachers for this unique STEAM class were Scott Harris from Telluride, Brent Cain from Moab, and Andy McKim from Moffat Consolidated School District 2.

The students were also assisted by Christian Arel, an Americorps Vista student from the Master of Environmental Management Program at Western State University, Alex Willard an Americorps volunteer with San Luis Valley’s Alpine Achievers.


The Telluride Fire Festival was able to offer this two-day workshop through support from various companies in Telluride and the region: Coldharbour Institute,
Alpine Achievers,
Saguache County Sales Tax Grant,
Moffat Consolidated School District 2, Ah Haa School for the Arts, Deep Creek Experimental, The Mountain Market, The Victorian Inn, Clark’s Market, Baked in Telluride, La Cocina de Luz, High Pie Pizzeria. 

About the Telluride Fire Festival and Coldharbour Institute
The Telluride Fire Festival, a 501c3 organization, is an interactive fire art experience offering free outdoor displays of fire artistry to attendees to enable all to immerse themselves in fire arts. Workshops are offered through scholarships for this January. Dates for 2017 are January 20-22.

Coldharbour Institute is a 501c3 organization in Gunnison that facilitates education, innovation, and demonstration. Its Coldharbour Youth Development Initiative, whose students engaged in this program, links Gunnison Basin high school students to Western’s Environment and Sustainability program through students from Western’s Master in Environmental Management program and a very generous grant from the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

For more about the Telluride Fire Festival, next year’s youth workshop and youth scholarships, volunteer positions, or to subscribe, visit or email


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