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Transformed by Art”, Miscoe Hill Gym Becomes a Fantasy Garden

A scene from the "Transformed by Art" exhibit in the Miscoe Hill School gymnasium. Students from Nipmuc High School and Miscoe Hill worked collaboratively to design and create a surrealist garden from pieces of reused or recycled materials. The project was funded by a grant from the Mendon-Upton Education Foundation.







The upstairs gymnasium at Miscoe Hill School was transformed into a fantasy garden for the day thanks to the creative efforts and collaboration of students in the district.

After receiving a grant from the Mendon-Upton Education Foundation, the art departments at Nipmuc High School and Miscoe started working together to design a collaborative "installation" art piece which was created and displayed on April 29 at Miscoe.

The first step in the project was to build display units, which was completed with the help of students and teachers at the end of February. The wooden display units held the "Transformed by Art" exhibit at Miscoe and will stored for future art displays by Nipmuc and Miscoe.

Once the date of the "Transformed by Art" exhibit was chosen, 16 students in the Nipmuc Art Department got to work coming up with a theme for the display. "We wanted the students to drive this process," said Nipmuc Art Teacher Alison Clish. "We showed them the materials that we had to work with and they brainstormed ideas and decided to create a surrealist garden," she said.

Nipmuc senior Rose Wiklund said that the students easily came up with the idea of a garden, but wanted to leave room for creative freedom. "We didn't want anything too complicated, or too planned because we knew that it could pretty much go in any direction," said Wiklund the day of the installation. Wiklund said mid-process that the art work was coming together nicely. "We didn't know exactly what was going to happen here, but the middle-school kids have a lot of really good ideas," she said.

Students from Miscoe rotated throughout the day during Art classes into the gymnasium to put their creative ideas and personal touches into the piece. The students used reused and recycled materials such as cardboard tubes, felt, wallpaper, pipe cleaners, string lights and more to create the scene, partnering with Nipmuc students to create the surrealist garden.

The "Transformed by Art" exhibit was completed before the end of the school day, and was open for public viewing later that evening. "Transformed by Art" was defined by the group as "installation artwork," or artwork that is created, constructed, or installed on the site where it is exhibited, and is often temporary as was the case at Miscoe, where the display was taken down the next day.

Nipmuc Art Teachers Clish and Kevin Campbell, and Miscoe Art teachers Jon Hansen and Alice Gentili, all said they were very pleased with the project, both of the collaboration with the other schools and with the student's creativity, even if it was "a little crazy" in the middle of creating the garden.

"It was fabulous," said Clish. "But the end product wasn't as important as the process of working together collaboratively," she said.




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