Whenever I need to stop by the high school to drop off a forgotten lunch or show up for a meeting, I always take a minute to admire the student-created artwork that graces the lobby. Putting student art front and center was one of the smartest aesthetic moves that planners made when deciding how to make the rebuilt Wellesley High School, which opened in 2012, feel like home rather than just a shiny new building. Putting student art at the forefront, rather than keeping it tucked away in the art wing, sends a message. It says, “Creativity is important here, linger a moment and gaze upon the work of our talented students.”
One thing is sure: where there are creative students, there are creative teachers leading the way, as seen at the Wellesley Public Schools K – 12 Faculty Art Show, running Oct. 7 – 28. Organized by K-12 Art Director Thom Carter, it is the first all-faculty art show. He got the bee in his bonnet a little over a year ago and didn’t rest until all 18 art teachers in the school system (including himself) agreed to show at least one piece of work, created in the medium of their choice.
And choose they did. There are sculptures, pottery, jewelry, photography, gouache paintings, metal work, watercolors, and more. “I take pride in the fact that the whole staff is made up of working artists,” says Carter.
Some of the art is for sale, some not, and there are no prices or hints about whether an artist is willing to part with a creation. So if you see something you can’t live without, you can email the artist and inquire.
As I walked around the lobby, filled with teacher art and student art, I took another look at the mosaic I’ve walked over dozens of times, and the weathervane, repurposed from the old high school, now used as a sculpture and focal point at the bottom of the lobby stairs. I was flooded with feelings of relief. Art is very present in our new high school. It didn’t get cut during a fractious budget meeting. The idea of art as necessary didn’t crash and burn when the words “override” and “debt exclusion” hung in the air.
I’ll bet it wasn’t easy. When a community is spending millions of dollars on a new building, there is undoubtedly a point when the numbers get crunched yet again and someone asks, do we really, really need that expensive mosaic? Is it absolutely essential to hang on to that old weathervane? Do we truly need such an extensive art program with pricey jewelry classes, a state-of-the-art darkroom, and kilns?
After all, a construction budget can always use trimming, and Wellesley wouldn’t be the first community to hang the label “fancy extras” on art.
But no. At least in this round, art prevailed. The mosaic, the weathervane, the student and faculty art tell anyone who walks into Wellesley High that this is OUR school. With the mosaic and the weathervane, the builders left the mark of Wellesley on the building, so that it can never be mistaken as some other school in some other place. With the changing gallery of art, our students literally show how they’ve been spending their time at school. Now, with art teachers from all over town showing their stuff, anyone who ever said those who can’t do, teach, will have to eat those sour words as they see the way our art faculty members can throw it down.
To see the show, go to the front entrance of the high school, buzz the buzzer, state your business, and make your way to the sign-in area (you’ll see it). The art is along the cafeteria wall nearest to the auditorium.
In more art news…
For our second year, Wellesley PSAS is collaborating with the amazing Davis Museum at Wellesley College to provide a night of art, wine and cheese, art raffles, and fun. We begin on Wednesday, October 21 at 6pm with a reception and a raffle on a variety of art-related items and continue with a tour of the Bunny Harvey: Four Decades exhibit. The event is free, but donations are always appreciated.
Please RSVP by the end of Wednesday, October 14th – and get your friends to come, too!