IMS hosted its first-ever Arts Day on the Upper Campus on Thursday, February 4, 2017, to celebrate our students’ creative and artistic work.

The first part of the morning was devoted to the visual arts, beginning with a presentation by guest speaker Ellen Griesedieck P’97’01. Ellen is the creator of The American Mural Project, which is a giant 5-story-tall, 120-foot-long art installation in Winsted, Connecticut, celebrating the American worker. Last spring, the Middle School visited the mural location and created tiles that will be incorporated into the final project. Ellen shared her creative vision and described how her process of creating art relies heavily on allowing random things of interest to take form over time. “It’s that layering of one thing on top of another that can create something surprising and beautiful,” says Ellen.

At the end of Ellen’s talk, she gave each student, faculty, and staff member a blank book, markers, and the challenge to spend the day—and beyond—filling the pages with “random things of interest.”

Students then rotated through three gallery spaces on the Upper Campus viewing fellow students’ artwork as well as the Main Street art on display in the Student Center. The hallways resembled a crowded day at the Met filled with students taking the time to carefully inspect and admire the artwork of their fellow students.

Art creation stations along the way allowed students to pause and spend time filling their books with doodles, drawings, glitter, and more. Ellen floated among the artists at work emphasizing that there is no “right way” to use the books or capture ideas. Any random thought or unexpected discovery is fodder for the free-form books.

The academic day ended with a two-hour concert to celebrate all of our Upper Campus musicians. They sounded great!

Though some students found the open-ended agenda of filling a blank book with random ideas and images challenging, the break in routine gave us all time to reflect and connect in a different and meaningful way with the people and spaces that surround us.

Stay tuned for more as our books begin to bulge with ideas throughout the rest of the year.