Stepping over and around kneeling artists, water bottles, and racks of chalk was worth it to view the striking designs painted by Paul Cuffee students during September’s Providence Rotary Street Painting Festival.
The upper school, under the direction of art teacher Kelly Lee, placed first among the high schools represented and the middle school, instructed by art teacher Amy Weigand, filled two squares with intriguing artistic puzzles.
Left free to devise their own design, students brainstormed artistic representations that “told their story.” Middle school artists created two optical illusions, both with “falling into the depths” as their theme. One, a bridge over a dark well; the other pieces of chalk cascading through tunnels of color.
The award-winning upper school design depicted “inside the teenage brain.” Created by 11th grader Pa Yang, it communicates the challenges and fears facing youth today. The group brainstormed ideas and issues to portray. Ms. Lee noted, “Young people are facing a world heavily impacted by climate change and other possibly negative impacts of war, oppression, industrialization and globalization. We arrived at this imagery through surrealist exercises tapping into our subconscious minds. These student artists also value education as a path to empowerment and ‘freedom’. These ideas came to the surface and are communicated in a sophisticated, nuanced way in this work.”
Cuffee squares were sponsored by Cuffee supporter, Ms. Holly Applegate, and the Middle School Parents.