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Local students were recently commissioned to create art to solve a real-world problem, thanks to a project led by Dr. Megan Hallissey, Columbus State University assistant professor of middle grades education. Now the students will get to see their art unveiled at a special celebration on April 6.
The idea for the collaboration began with the need for art in CSU’s newly constructed Frank Brown Hall. A committee of CSU professors decided to enlist the help of local elementary and middle school students, giving them specific measurements and a science-focused mission to use sound-absorption materials. They also challenged the students to focus on the theme “What is Education?”.
“The students really took pride in their work and felt very special to be working on this for CSU,” said Melissa Niemi, a teacher at Richards Middle School. “They learned to be creative and express their thoughts in a way that they had not done before.”
Richards Middle School was one of eleven regional elementary and middle schools participating in the project. As the sponsor of the school’s Girls in Engineering in Math and Science (GEMS) club, Niemi oversaw two groups of middle school girls through the project. One group decided to focus on all the careers that are made possible through education, and the other used their art to highlight STEM. Niemi and many of the girls plan on attending the April 6 celebration.
“They are so excited and can’t wait to see the end result,” said Niemi.
Melissa Wilks, another participating teacher from Glenwood School in Phenix City, says her students are also excited. For their project, the group focused on the word “opportunity” and used pages from books as the material for the art. She says the project generated important discussions as the students tore pages, passed them around and responded to them.
“The students were thrilled to have been ‘commissioned’ to design an installation piece,” said Wilks. “Our pieces are perfectly imperfect, inspired by meaningful conversation and worthwhile reflection. I was so happy to be asked and to participate.”
The art will be displayed on the third floor of the teacher education section of Frank Brown Hall. Participating students, their parents, and members of the community are invited to celebrate on April 6 at a 5:30 p.m. reception in Frank Brown Hall, located at 1127 Broadway. Refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres will be served with celebratory remarks from CSU President Dr. Chris Markwood and Muscogee County School District Superintendent Dr. David Lewis.
The art installation will also be included in Artbeat2018’s ARTWalk, which includes the Bo Bartlett Center, Corn Center, Gallery on Tenth, and the W.C. Bradley Co. Museum. Artbeat is a three-week collaborative celebration to display the role of the arts community in Columbus through various events and an art walk.