The Story Fence is nearing its completion. This is the story behind the story fence. A huge shout out goes to ArtStarts Artists in the Classroom and to the staff at Brighouse Elementary, especially Mr. A who helped to make this fully engaging and artistic project a reality.
It began with a conversation, a winter garden and a vision. I approached Mr. A with the thought that I could be their Artist in Residence and what this would involve. He wanted something that the entire school could participate in and that would capture the voices and cultures that made up his community. We were both staring at the community garden at the time. It occurred to me that the fence was laid out like the pages of a picture book. “Why don’t we make a story fence?” I suggested. “It could tell the story of the community and beautify your grounds.”
Several meetings with staff and PAC later, we submitted our application with fingers crossed.
“The Story Fence is a full school infusion project that involves many modes of learning and creativity, collaboration and engagement. Samuel Brighouse Elementary students and staff have built and planted a community garden on the grounds of their school. The Story Fence is a legacy project that will beautify the school grounds and tell the story and history of the community for the current generation and generations to come by adorning the chain link fence surrounding the garden with the ‘story’ of how Brighouse has evolved as a community since the mid 19th century. Thematically and visually it represents the past, present and future intertwined with community building. Students and teachers will all contribute on some level to the development, design, creation and mounting of the painted and weather resistant wood motifs on the fence. They will also help to write the story that will be depicted on the fence in words and images. There is opportunity for some to act it out or create a song or dance piece/flash mob that recounts the story on the fence. All will have a hand in designing and painting the images that will be cut from wood and then mounted. When complete, the fence will read like a picture book and will stand for many generations to tell the story of how Brighouse came to be and what its hopes and vision for the future hold.”
When we had finished our happy dances after receiving the grant, the real work began. I had to collaborate with 15 teachers and include the work of 400 students, come up with themes and stories, cut the wood, have the students paint it and then display it on the fence.
Each class chose a theme and in my class visits, we wrote poetry (to tell the story of their theme) did research and designed panels with images for the fence. We then measured and laid out on pieces of paper, our proposed design. Step one was complete.