Compass Center connects 600 kids with art project

Neshobe students laugh at the funny face they made for their sculpture.

A project called the “Human Connection” at the Compass Music and Arts Center will allow children to showcase their artistic side while helping them connect with their peers. Over the next three weeks, the Brandon-based center will welcome more than 600 children and young adults to create three-dimensional sculptures that involve the Human Connection theme.

Over the past few weeks, students all over the district have discussed the theme and worked out plans for how they want to signify the way humans connect.

“The goal of this project is to get the students to learn to collaborate,” John Brodowski, art teacher at Neshobe said. “Not only with each other, but with students from around the district to make one complete project.”

During the first day of the project this Monday, fifth grade students from Neshobe Elementary School came to the center to see those ideas spring to life. Separated into three groups, they started making their sculptures with wire.

“We have had a lot of help from the community to get this project underway,” Brodowski said. “Hays Pallets donated pallets to work on, Green Mountain Power donated all the wire, Nifty Thrifty pitched in as did the Compass Center and others.”

Kristen Varian, of the Brandon Artist Guild, gives a helping hand to students as they assemble their wire into a sculpture.

Led by Otter Valley High School art students, who helped the younger children get started, the three groups quickly went to work. One group was charged with making hands, while another did eyes. The third group started working on faces, but when Brodowski informed them they could make their sculptures on a larger scale, they outlined one of their classmates on the floor and started making a whole person.

“We have been studying Alexander Calder and his mobiles and wire sculptures,” Brodowski said. “The students all had a plan on how they would make a part of the human body that helps us connect.”

This is not the first mass art project the Compass Center has held. Two years ago they held an art workshop involving 1,000 children using Sumi ink to decorate the walls of the center.

“It was a thousand children using their hands to put ink everywhere,” Edna Sutton, director of the Compass Center, said. “We were washing hands for days.”

Artists from the Brandon Artists Guild were on hand to give pointers or simply hold pieces of wire while the young artists collaborated on their designs. When they finished for the day, they hung their completed sculptures from the ceiling in the center.

Liliana Mahoney shows off the iris for the human eye art project her group made.

Lothrop Elementary and Barstow Elementary schools will alternate days of sending different groups of students to the center. After all 49 groups of five children each have been through the process, the art will be presented together on April 10. Projectors will light the sculptures with different colors and display their shadows on the wall while music is played. The event will be open to the public and all the children will return to see the finished project.

The Neshobe students on the first day of the project seemed to be enjoying themselves, each for a different reason. One student just liked getting out of the classroom, while another liked getting to make stuff. One had simpler reasons to enjoy her work.“I like that they let us use these pliers,” Lilliana Mahoney said as she used a pair of needle nose pliers to snip off a piece of wire. “Because I got bit by a horse yesterday and my fingers are sore.”

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