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Mt. Ararat High School students turn sticks into sculptures

With the guidance of Patrick Dougherty, an award-winning natural artist, students spent two days building sculptures from the ground up.

TOPSHAM, Maine — Students at Mt. Ararat High School have recently had a unique artistic journey, as members of the garden club and art programs spent the last two school days transforming sticks into impressive sculptures. 

This hands-on experience has not only challenged their creativity but also provided valuable lessons about creating art.

"I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started," junior Anya Kowalsky admitted, reflecting on her initial struggles. 

The students quickly realized that crafting something like these sculptures was no easy task. 

Kowalsky added, "It was so much harder than I thought it was going to be. You have to know which sticks you want and how long you want them to be. I had no idea it was going to be so complicated."

Fortunately, the students found inspiration in Patrick Dougherty, an award-winning environmental artist from North Carolina. Known as the "stick wizard," Dougherty and his son Sam, also an expert stick-worker, visited Maine to showcase alternative ways of creating art. He encouraged the students to explore their own artistic styles.

Dougherty shared his thoughts, stating, "The idea that you would start making things means that you as an individual can appreciate and you don't have to accept somebody's aesthetic. You can create your own aesthetic."

Under Dougherty's guidance, the students used their hands to bring their ideas to life. This opportunity allowed them to think creatively and engage in an artistic process.

Junior Kristina Rocoe expressed her enthusiasm, saying, "Having the opportunity, I jumped at it. I literally jumped at it immediately. Yes, I went and asked all my teachers if it was alright if I went for the day." 

"It was so much fun," Kowalsky said. "You have no idea. I felt a little famous myself working with a famous dude."

Over the course of the last two days, approximately 200 students participated in the project, each leaving their personal touch on the sculptures. 

This collective effort not only resulted in breathtaking artwork but also created a bonding experience among the students.

Reflecting on the experience, Rocoe shared, "I've gotten the chance to talk to a lot of other people I didn't have the chance to in all my years of schooling. Being able to talk to them, joke and laugh, it's been really fun."

The project has undoubtedly provided a memorable opportunity for the students involved, leaving a lasting impact on their artistic pursuits. As they continue their artistic journeys, the valuable lessons learned during this project will undoubtedly shape their creative perspectives and approaches.

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