Over 700 pieces of art from students at Floyd Middle School are being featured at the Mable House Art Gallery in Mableton. In addition to traditional art forms (paintings and drawings), the exhibit also features sculptures made from recyclable materials and living art pieces designed and engineered to reinforce the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum at Floyd.
The relationship between Floyd and Mable House has been ongoing for over three decades. Originally conceived and started by Floyd art teacher, Pam Carsillo, the display has been managed for the last 29 years by current art teacher, Lisa Collins.
“I have witnessed it morph and have met the challenge to feature a unique look every year,” Ms. Collins said. “It has grown from being around 100 pieces in the early days, to 739 this year.”
The partnership between Floyd and Mable House made perfect sense because the buildings neighbor each other. In May, 1999, Mable House opened a new complex, making it one of the largest galleries available in Cobb County. This also allowed more space for Floyd to exhibit.
“The dates of ‘Floyd Celebrates the Arts’ are always March through April to celebrate March’s national youth art month,” said Ms. Collins.
This year, opening night was attended by more than 200 people, with support from the Floyd PTSA, Partners in Education, Publix, and Chick-fil-A. The partnership between the Floyd Art Club and the Austell Road Chick-fil-A has been ongoing for ten years, with the Art Club decorating the entire restaurant during the holidays.
This year’s exhibit highlighted Asian culture; the exhibit ties in with what students are learning in Social Studies each year. In addition to Asian art, students also spotlighted art from other areas around the world including Egyptian and multicultural art including African, Indian, Mexican, European, and more.
“Personally, I have a love for multicultural art,” said Ms. Collins, “especially after participating in studies abroad programs in Italy and Mexico. I also was a college representative to tour South Korea for a couple of weeks and I have personally toured Europe a few times. My traveling adventures increased my passion to promote respect for art from different cultures.”
Architectural, nature, and artist studies were also featured, plus recycled sculptures and STEAM infused art history masterpieces. These pieces allowed the art to have a deeper meaning for students, where art is intertwined with the hard disciplines of science and technology. The STEAM projects used motors to simulate motion as well as silhouette butterfly sculptures made from recycled plastic bottles.
“One piece in particular brought tears to my eyes,” Ms. Collins said. “It was a 6-foot-tall teen silhouette clothed in a dress made of butterflies with her hand outstretched giving the illusion she was releasing additional butterflies with names written on each one. This memorial masterpiece pays tribute to loved ones whose spirits were released by cancer.”
This is especially meaningful to Floyd students and faculty because one of Floyd’s teachers, Mrs. Ilynnette Ross, recently lost her battle to cancer. Once returned from the gallery, this butterfly memorial featuring the name of Mrs. Ross and other loved ones will be permanently displayed in the Parent Resource Room at Floyd.
Mable House art specialist, Marie Jernigan, knows how much having their art exhibited publicly can mean to the students. “Having the opportunity to be in a gallery, to share their talent with their family and friends, is something they will remember their whole lives,” she said.
“We are truly in awe of the dedication and hard work that Ms. Collins, her volunteers, and the whole Floyd family put in to create such a wonderful experience for the students,” Ms. Jernigan said. “We are grateful for all the work, time, and energy each and every student puts into their artwork. It truly is a great tradition that we at Mable House are honored to continue every year.”