Art installation describes students in one word
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As junior Kade Traffas and senior Kalena Nichol sat in their second hour class one late August morning, they tuned into their AP Biology teacher. Little did they know, they would soon be asked to do something that would get their brains turning even more than a lesson on macromolecules would.
Two or three students from art teacher Rachel Downs-Blair’s AP drawing class visited classrooms and asked students to write one word that describes them on a notecard and place it in a bag.
Along with Traffas and Nichol, many students found it difficult to think of only one word.
“I was kind of caught off guard and then immediately tried to think of one that really summed me up,” Traffas said. “I wrote ‘honest’ because honesty is a very important value to me and a lot of people lack it.”
Since each individual is so different, some students took a different approach to the task.
“I chose ‘independent’ because I’ve had a job since seventh grade and I pay for all of my own stuff, even my car and I’m saving up for college,” Nichol said. “It’s so vital for me to take responsibility for what I do and the things I have.”
The art installation project was more than just a cool visual to walk past in the hallway. It had a deeper meaning and purpose.
“[The project] was a way to show that our school is very diverse, and to respect that,” senior art student Jessica Ellebracht said. “We wanted every student to be able to describe themselves in one word because one word can say a lot about someone.”
Filling the case with self describing balloons emphasized the value and importance of every student. Some words included kind, supportive, happy, powerful and leader.
Although many words were uplifting, participating art students noticed a few that were not as positive. One of the most profound words used was “lonely”.
“Seeing that someone would describe him/herself as lonely made me want to find that person and tell them they are not alone,” Ellebracht said. “It really opened up our eyes.”
Unfortunately, some classes did not get to participate because teachers did not want their classes to be interrupted or art students just could not visit every class. However, this did not keep the project from covering a wide range of students.
“There had to be over 100 students involved,” senior art student Oisin Thompson said. “We wish we could have represented the whole school, but it turned out amazing regardless.”
The goal was to get people thinking about what they represent and how that contributes to what Free State represents.
“I enjoyed being able to see so many different words and all those people coming together to work on an important project,” Ellebracht said.