The visual and performing arts have combined their awesome powers to involve and educate more of our students as they worked together to create a special production of Love and Information in the Black Box theatre. The show kicks off on October 31 and will run through November 2.
Director Jesse Hawley said, “When I was thinking about the set for Caryl Churchill’s play Love and Information, I was drawn to the paintings of Hilma af Klint, a Swedish abstract painter (some now say she was one of the first—predating the men who are famous for starting the movement). She was also a mystic and a spiritualist and felt her paintings were a means to communicate information and ideas from other realms. Because the play is about the many ways we try to communicate, I thought why not try to bring together a playwright and an artist who are both investigating communication?”
Because of the way the black box is oriented, creating a floor painting seemed to Hawley a great way to both organize the space and add another layer to the meaning of the play, as well as to involve more students in the effort. When she consulted with Richard Van Voris, our master set designer, he suggested creating the work on Masonite panels that could be re-used. Brilliant! Next, Hawley shared the idea with Tricia Smith, Art Department Chair, to see if she might enlist her after school studio art group to create a design inspired by Hilma af Klint’s work.
“When Jesse asked if I wanted to collaborate to create a floor painting as part of the set for Love and Information I was excited to find a way to make it work,” said Smith. “In mid-September, I presented the after school art group with the brief for the project and a slideshow of Hilma af Klint’s paintings. I offered it to all of the students as a potential “job” if they wanted to try designing the image, then I said I would present their work to “the client” and let Ms. Hawley and the cast choose which design would become the set. I was pleased that quite a number of students participated in the effort to come up with a design.”
In the end, Grace Mead’s ‘20 artwork was chosen for the floor panels. “I was so happy when Ms. Smith told me my design would be featured in the show. I love how Hilma af Klint interacts shape, color, and line to create a distinct balance and playfulness in her pieces. The opportunity to see my art come to life has been so special!”
The next step in the process was to work out a color palette and create a finished color image using a drawing app on the iPad. “Starting with the background color that Jesse and I selected, Grace created a sophisticated multi-chromatic digital painting,” said Smith.
Once the design was finalized, the whole after school art group was enlisted to paint the design after it was transferred onto the six Masonite panels. Once united, the panels will create a 12’x16’ mural for the floor of the black box. Smith shared, “Grace Mead ’20 and Grace MacNeill ’20 worked together to mix all the colors we would use. Then they created a paint by number map so students could work in small teams to paint all six panels.” One afternoon, everyone painted the panels, and for two days after, smaller teams of students performed touch-ups and added a second coat where they felt it was necessary.
Smith said, “This collaboration was a fun way to combine talents and link the visual and performing arts. It was also a great way to provide a memorable experience for my group. I know we all feel a sense of pride seeing our team effort turn a 6”x 8” sketch and digital painting into a massive, colorful, engaging 12'x16' mural. I am sure we will all enjoy seeing our work come to life as the cast of the fall drama perform their show on top of our collaborative contribution.”
These types of collaborative projects bring a sense of relevance to our students’ work and allow them to share in the community of creation. Now, there are even more students invested in a terrific performance of Love and Information.
The show Love and Information, by Caryl Churchill, goes up on October 31 - November 2. Parents and students may reserve a free ticket at the switchboard at 508-748-2000. Call early as seats are limited.