An update on the Stearns Elementary 5th Grade Sol LeWitt Project from current Education Coordinator Alison:
I visited Stearns Elementary School last week to see what Mrs. Griffin and Mrs. Hollister’s fifth graders were churning out in response to their visit to MASS MoCA.Â When I arrived, the filming that began in the MASS MoCA parking lot and continued in the galleries was still rolling. I was further impressed to see the professional, yet cool calm these young people showed while on film.
They were about to fully execute polygon wall drawings inspired by LeWitt, developed by their teachers, on their school’s hallway with permission from their school board (of course). On the first day back in the classroom, each student was given a set of directions, provided by Mrs. Griffin, not unlike the ones left behind by Sol LeWitt.
An example of instructions by Mrs. Griffin:
Wall drawing 2-draw a 3 sided polygon with each side measuring 1 ft (center triangle #1
with base 6 in above bottom of 4 ft squareÂ and 6 in on either side of
base, triangles #2, 3, & 4 are rotated 90 degrees from previous triangle)
To help aid in the drafting process, students also referred to a diagram of the wall provided by edm services in Pittsfield.
Using a ruler and/or a compass and a pencil, each student drafted his or her own polygon on a piece of paper.Â The next step was to position the geometric shapes on the walls outside their classroom. This position, as noted above, was also determined in the set of provided directions.Â Using a pencil, each student carefully traced the shape directly on the school’s hallway.
Once traced on the wall, students masked the rest of the wall with tape, prepping it for the following day when they would paint.
I returned the next morning to see the students coating the walls with their designated colors.Â Keeping in line with LeWitt, they used only primary colors (red, yellow, and blue).Â It surprised the young draftspeople how many layers some of the shapes required- the yellow paint especially.Â They worked together to make the shapes solid and with out a trace of brushstrokes, much like LeWitt’s draftspeople.
As Education Coordinator for MASS MoCA and part time Youth Development Associate for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, going into schools is often part of my week.Â It continues to shock me every time I enter a school, it doesn’t matter if it’s Hoosac Valley High, Conte Middle School, Savoy Elementary or Stearns Elementary, they all smell the same.Â It must be that the state of Massachusetts mandates every school to contract with the same cleaning product company (and perhaps it’s been the same contract for the past 25 years), or maybe it’s the smell of bound books and the permeating sents of school lunch?Â Whatever the reason maybe that smell always triggers my own experiences as a young pupil- both the joys and the dreads. While at Stearns School last week, I kept thinking how for math class was always my least favorite part of the day.Â Â As a fifth grader, my appreciation of mathematic principles likely would have changed, had I been so lucky to have Mrs. Griffin and Hollister as teachers, and perhaps it would have changed my math experiences from then on out.Â I can only speculate, but my bet is many of the young people at Stearns will be influenced by this Sol LeWitt exploration in years to come.