Chairing the masters at Oceanside West
Thomaston — RSU 13 teacher Sylvia Percy and her Foundations of Art students have begun to fill Oceanside High School West with interpretations of the great masters, rendered on an unlikely canvas — the utilitarian metal folding chair. The results can currently be seen in the student services room and the school principal’s office.
The students, who are in eighth and ninth grades, were given the task of studying a famous artist of their choice. They found out about the artist's life, the style of art, materials used and where the artist fit in the historical timeline. Among the artists chosen by the students were Georgia O'Keefe, Grant Wood, Andrew Wyeth, Gustav Klimt, Leonardo Di Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Matisse. Once they students did a written summary of their research, they were asked to choose a favorite piece by their artist — and reproduce it as accurately as possible, making sure to capture the style of the artist.
Percy said the current 16 students were her test subjects because she has never had students paint on furniture before. She did not know how, or even if, it would work.
“To my delight, the project was a huge success and will be continued for the next years; my goal is every metal folding chair in the gym will be painted by students passing through this school and my art program,” she said.
The project offered a substantial lesson on color mixing with acrylic paints; and developing painting and brush techniques, as well as the discovery that art can be executed on unconventional materials. Once each chair was complete, the students attached their write-ups to the back and polyurethaned it so the painting will remain protected.
“I feel that because students are only spending two years in this building, it is important for them to have some ownership and to leave their mark in a positive and educational way,” Percy said, adding the Principal Larry Schooley and school councilor David Hanc have been very supportive of the art program and repeatedly stopped into the class to see how students were progressing with their chairs.
"The fact that we were able to paint on furniture that will be left here for other students to see and use is pretty cool. It will be interesting to come back in 10 years or so and see my chair mixed in with all the other chairs students will be creating in the years to come,” said ninth grader Becca Boggs.
"I really felt this was a great and interesting experience translating a work of famous art into a different media. Because we had to stay true to the artist and yet, at the same time stay true to our own artistic skills made this lesson very challenging," said Kalie McGuirl, also in ninth grade.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.