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Students go to the wall for art

"What a great idea.Take some damaged street signs about to be discarded by the city. Add a couple of creative high school students. And, voila, a fence that resembled bars of a jail cell is transformed into a climbing wall for lizards and jungle plants. Bainbridge High School senior Mark VonRosenstiel and junior Ashley Pyles collaborated on the as-yet-untitled metal sculpture for a school art project that will be their gift to future BHS students. It's impossible to pass the playful sculpture without enjoying its whimsical geckos.A big improvement, was the assessment of student Nora Harrington as she passed by the adorned wall just outside the art classroom, up the hill from the student parking lot. Art teacher Sissel Feroy is proud of the piece created by her students: It took hours and hours of their time at home. They're two very skilled sculpture students. Feroy, who has been teaching art at the high school for 12 years, said this is the biggest student-generated piece ever. This goes beyond the little individual projects, she said. And it's a generous gift. The two students received funding from Bainbridge Arts and Crafts and technical assistance from metal artist Michele Van Slyke and Mark's father, Paul, an architect who admits he likes to build just about anything. The elder VonRosenstiel saw himself primarily as a technical advisor. I helped with the process, getting it so it was buildable, but I tried not to impact the creative process. Mark, who discovered an interest in sculpture during his freshman year, had worked with his father on some garden art. Some fun ideas came out of it, he says. Including working with old street signs. When he decided to do a permanent installation at school, VonRosenstiel thought the street signs would work well in that environment. Pyles joined the project and the collaborative process began. That's the one area where they both grew quite a lot, said Paul VonRosenstiel. They started out wanting to do it their way. The two students designed, compromised, redesigned and compromised some more before the artwork was completed. The project had to be modified to meet time, material and ability demands, said Paul VonRosenstiel, adding, They learned to do this without compromising the essence of the concept. One challenge was to get pieces big enough to make the figures as large as VonRosenstiel and Pyles wanted. There were no signs that came ready made the right size, so the students had to weld pieces together without disturbing the flow of words, an integral part of the design. One lizard appears to be named Eagledale, another Park."

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