Collaboration with Herron High School

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"This is a step to open doors and to show more people my art. What if there is someone 'big' in the audience? They will see my work!"
—Herron H.S. Sculpture student Avery Broadnax

Students from Herron High School's Sculpture classes are creating small sculptures to represent the "gifts" for DK's Ceremony of Carols in A World of Christmas. They are also designing and painting signs that the Sugar Plum Fairy (Dk dancer Mariel Greenlee) will use in Act Two, World Christmas Kaleidoscope. Herron High School teacher Susan Grade answered a Q & A about the students experiences on this collaborative project.

Q: What's unique about this art project?
Herron High School students are getting a chance to experience a community collaboration. They are designing sculptures for a specific use and audience, which is a new experience for them. Our DK collaboration links us to performing arts audiences and allows students to see their sculptures on stage versus in our classroom or school gallery setting.

Herron Collage

Q: How does this project fit within your class syllabus?
Sculpture students are creating organic forms that utilize the principles of repetition, rhythm, and occupied/unoccupied space. Our sculptures will be clad with white tissue paper and will also use light as a material. Within our Sculpture classroom, students' sculptures will be designed to have a light inside that illuminates the sculpture from within. However, works chosen for the DK performance will be lit from the stage. 

When Mr. Hochoy contacted me about creating the "presents" for DK's "Ceremony of the Carols", I immediately thought of a project that is already part of our Sculpture curriculum at Herron, our "Illuminated Bamboo" Sculpture. So I adapted that project to fit DK's requests for "presents." I believe only ten sculptures will be chosen to be used on stage, so this project provides students with the experience of competition in art. They are challenged to meet the design requirements of a "client," in this case DK.  But I hope that students will learn that art has an audience, and considering that the merging of meaning (or message) and materials is imperative to being an artist. For instance, students need to consider how their sculpture will appear on stage.  Will small details be distinguishable?  Will the work sit properly once placed on stage by a dancer? These are questions my students are now asking, and I love it!  

For this project, I had students complete a design thinking exercise after coming up with initial sketches of their sculpture plans. They received input from peers and suggestions for modifications to improve their designs/concepts.  I also am having them research an artist for inspiration. I am excited for them to see that art is not made in a bubble, but is part of a culture and can visually expressive and communicate ideas.

Herron Collage 2

Q: What art direction did David Hochoy give you? How much creative freedom do you/your students have in creating these sculptures for DK's show?
David Hochoy, the artistic director of Dance Kaleidoscope, emailed me about the project after we connected through Ms. Laurie Cutsinger, the dance teacher at Herron High School. Mr. Hochoy told me that DK was reviving a piece called "Ceremony of Carols" set to the beautiful score by Benjamin Britten and mailed a DVD of a performance of the dance. My Sculpture students watched portions of this DVD as an introduction to our project, which helped them understand the role of the sculptures as well as the scale. We determined that the forms that grabbed us the most showed good use of the principle of occupied/unoccupied space.

Q: What has the reaction been from the students to the project? Is it exciting to them that they will be used in public performances?
Our students are excited to be a part of something outside of Herron High School. At the same time, I think some wonder if their sculpture will be chosen or not for the stage. This is part of every artist's angst, speaking from experience.  

Herron Students

Herron High School Sculpture Students

Duncan Baumgarten, Maurice Broaddus, Avery Broadnax, Gillian Dunn, Lila Durrett, Lillian Gibson, Shelby Gray, Ian Jacobs, Timothy LeMasters, Shelby Leslie, Regan Mead, Ezra Moran, Jude Morey, Kyra Morgan, Alex Overdorf, Grover Page, Jaden Ransom, Olivia Reavis, Donovan Smith, Ethan Strunk, Vivian Wetli, Serena Wilson, Katherine Zuercher

See which beautiful scupltures were chosen from the talented students at Herron High School. A World of Christmas performs at Indiana Repertory Theatre (140 W. Washington St., Downtown Indianapolis) November 30 through December 10.

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Photos by Freddie Kelvin