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Kids make ‘human connection’ at Compass Center

BRANDON — Children have been getting a chance to showcase their artistic side while helping them connect with their peers through “Human Connection,” a project at the Compass Music and Arts Center in Brandon. Over the past three weeks, the center welcomed an estimated 600 children and young adults to create three-dimensional sculptures that involved the Human Connection theme.
Leading up to the project, students all over the district discussed the theme and worked out plans for how they wanted to signify the way humans connect.
“The goal of this project is to get the students to learn to collaborate, not only with each other, but with students from around the district to make one complete project” said John Brodowski, art teacher at Neshobe Elementary School in Brandon.
During the first day of the project on March 18, fifth-grade students from Neshobe Elementary came to the center to see those ideas spring to life. Separated into three groups, they started making their sculptures with wire.
“We have had a lot of help from the community to get this project underway,” Brodowski said. “Hays Pallets donated pallets to work on, Green Mountain Power donated all the wire, Nifty Thrifty pitched in as did the Compass Center and others.”
LILIANA MAHONEY SHOWS off the iris she made for the human eye art project her group made.
Independent photo/Russell Jones
Led by Otter Valley Union High School art students, who helped the younger children get started, the three groups quickly went to work. One group was charged with making hands, while another did eyes. The third group started working on faces. When Brodowski informed them they could make their sculptures on a larger scale, they outlined one of their classmates on the floor and started making a whole person.
“We have been studying Alexander Calder and his mobiles and wire sculptures,” Brodowski said. “The students all had a plan on how they would make a part of the human body that helps us connect.”
This is not the first mass art project the Compass Center has organized. Two years ago they ran an art workshop involving 1,000 children using Sumi ink to decorate the walls of the center.
“It was a thousand children using their hands to put ink everywhere,” Compass Center Director Edna Sutton said. “We were washing hands for days.”
Artists from the Brandon Artists Guild were on hand for the Human Connection kickoff to give pointers or simply hold pieces of wire while the young artists collaborated on their designs. When they finished for the day, they hung their completed sculptures from the ceiling in the center.
Independent photo/Russell Jones
Lothrop and Barstow elementary schools sent their own groups of students to the center on alternating days. After all 49 groups of five children each went through the process, the art was scheduled to be presented together beginning on Wednesday, April 10. Projectors lit the sculptures with different colors and displayed their shadows on the wall while music was played. The event was open to the public and all the children returned to see the finished project.
The Neshobe students on the first day of the project seemed to be enjoying themselves, each for a different reason. One student just liked getting out of the classroom, while another liked getting to make stuff. One had simpler reasons to enjoy her work.
“I like that they let us use these pliers,” Lilliana Mahoney said as she used a pair of needle nose pliers to snip off a piece of wire. “Because I got bit by a horse yesterday and my fingers are sore.”

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