There’s something about a good art exhibit that satisfies the soul. Before Thanksgiving vacation, the Cardigan community was treated to a four-day exhibit of student artwork, not just visual but musical as well. It was a delight to not only see all that the boys had accomplished during the fall semester but at the same time hear the musical pieces they have studied, and in many cases, mastered.
During the last week of school, Arts Department Chair Nina Silitch P’19,’21 organized a Musical Morning Break each day during snack break. Student artwork from Gates, Digital Photography, Visual Arts, and Woodshop was on display in the Needham Gallery, while students played music in the background. Lively piano suites and somber violin pieces echoed throughout the gallery, highlighting the musical talents of many of our students, while members of the community strolled through the gallery.
The wide range of art projects was impressive. On one wall hung landscapes painted in brilliant colors; on another small holiday scenes in watercolors. On tables sculptures and woodworking pieces were on display as well.
Pillows by our sixth and seventh grade Gates students were hung on another wall. For the past few weeks, they've been working on original two-dimensional print designs and engraving their creations into denim pillow covers. Wielding a sewing needle, the boys stitched by hand and machine, creating their own custom pillows. Through productive failure and determination, the outcomes are not only creative in design but functionally fantastic.
In the middle the gallery sat many pairs of shoes. For this project, eighth-grade students were asked to consider what it means “to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” and understand their own personal stories. As students built their own shoes out of cardboard and brown paper, they were asked to think about the meaning of empathy and placing themselves in another person’s position. After completing their shoes, they were asked to write about their own experiences in the shoes they chose to reconstruct.
Mac Wang ’20, who created a pair of adaptable ski boots, wrote, “The main thesis of these boots in plurality, different people, cultures, beliefs, all can fit in these boots, like we the people fit in the global society, the earth.”
Miguel Ramirez ’20 focused his attention on a pair of shoes he has worn to many parties and family weddings. He wrote, “…I bring them with me to the thing I like most, spending time with friends. I also like dancing and these shoes are perfect for that…”
Personal reflection was also part of a digital photography project hanging on another wall of the gallery. Inspired by the work of Dawoud Bey—an American photographer and educator renowned for his large-scale art photography that often focuses on American adolescents in and other often marginalized subjects—the ninth-grade digital arts students created self-portraits that conveyed particular emotions. As with the shoes, students were asked to reflect on their artwork in writing.
“My friends think I’m curious,” wrote one student. “They’re right, I’m really eager. My family thinks I’m energetic and that’s true. When I’m at school I’m talkative, and when I’m at home I’m joyful. When you look at me, I seem like a daydreamer. The person I am insides looks like the person on the outside because I’m really unique.”
Another student wrote, “My friends think I’m romantic. They’re wrong. I’m really energetic. My family thinks I’m smart and that’s true. When I’m at school I’m shy, and when I’m at home I’m talkative. When you look at me, I seem creative. The person I am inside me does look like the person on the outside because I’m really beautiful.”
The last days of school before any break are hectic, filled with last-minute projects, cleaning rooms, and packing for vacation adventures. The Musical Morning Breaks were just as the name implies—short breaks in our busy schedules, mere moments to stop and appreciate art and the creative spirit of our boys. Nonetheless their importance should not be underestimated; we are grateful they are part of the fabric of our community, filling our souls with tiny bits of color and moments spent reflecting on the experiences of others.