ANN ARBOR – On Friday, a large art studio at Skyline High School was bustling with students and members of the Ann Arbor Art Center's staff.
Ann Arbor Public Schools partnered with the center this year to engage students to create eye-catching art to be displayed on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor for Youth Art Month.
While artwork from local students of all ages will be displayed in store windows as in years past, the flags will bring a more visible presence to the downtown area.
"The organizers of Youth Art Month approached us about two months ago because they were interested in making Youth Art Month have a bigger footprint in Ann Arbor so that more people take notice and come down to see it," said Jean Spindler, youth programs manager at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
"We tried to think of things that would work in the Michigan weather, and that would work for large groups of kids and be eye-catching and cool and fun and exciting for them. So we thought about doing strings with flags that we could hang on the lampposts that feature illustrations and visual representations of what brings them joy, what makes them feel whole and what they want to see more of in their community and in their lives."
Students painted a fiber-reactive dye called Procion onto small fabric flags and transferred them to plastic bags to set.
Ahead of each session throughout the day, Ann Arbor Art Center instructor Claudia Selene gave a presentation explaining the chemical properties of the art project.
Ellen Gessert, a visual arts teacher at Skyline, said she was encouraged to see how engaged her students have been in making the flags.
"It's been a lot of fun," she said. "It’s totally different than any other projects that we’ve done this trimester. It’s so new for them and they were so excited. Last hour's class is normally so loud and they were silent. I think that speaks a lot to their engagement and how into the project they were. That’s been fun to see."
The flags will be installed Thursday, and will stay up for about a week and then go back to Skyline.
"We’re in downtown Ann Arbor and we have this nice window view of the downtown area from the art center," said Spindler. "And it always feels so gloomy, so dismal. You get those winter blues. And having something that adds that little spark, that little hope that spring is on the way filled with positive good things, I think is a nice vibe."
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