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MCHS Art Students Create the "Wildlife of Madagascar"

Students from Martin County High School’s Visual Arts Department recently showcased their personal artistic interpretations of the Wildlife of Madagascar at the school’s second annual student art exhibition.  This special gallery was the culminating activity of a year-long project funded by a grant from the Education Foundation of Martin County (EFMC).  The event also featured authentic cuisine from Madagascar created by students in the culinary arts classes. 

The student artists worked from wildlife photographs taken by National Geographic scientist, explorer, photographer and blogger Dr. Valerie C. Clark, translating her images of these rare animal species into line drawings and paintings.  For many of them, the project was an exciting challenge, and a big change from their usual artistic subjects and mediums.

“I typically do landscapes,” said Peyton DeWitt, a junior at MCHS.  “This is only the second wildlife piece that I’ve created and it’s very different for me.”  Sophomores Paul Pelletier, Jr. and Hannah-Haven Ball, who collaborated on a large-scale canvas painting, agreed that both the subject and style were out of the box from their usual artwork.  This was also the first time they’d partnered on an art project.

Junior Jadyn Palanchian’s painting of a Malagasy white-eye bird was her first foray into painting, and now she’s hooked; “I usually work in ink, and I’d never painted before,” she said.  “Now I have a real passion for it.”   

According to Lisa Rhodes, EFMC’s Executive Director, the project was an ideal grant candidate because it opened up opportunities for cross-curricular study.  “It bridges the gap between art and science.  The Education Foundation is committed to investing in the arts because we believe the arts encourage creativity, and creativity drives innovation.  This project allowed students to connect to another culture through art, language, geography, science, technology and the sharing of ideas and materials,” she said. 

Students learned about exotic animal species and got a look into this fascinating part of the world.  They also learned the chemistry of printing on fabric by hand-dyeing sarongs with indigo dye.  “We focused on the chemistry of the fabric dyeing process and fiber reactive dye,” said Amanda Jones, a teacher in the Visual Arts Department.  “The sarongs will be given as an outreach to the people of Madagascar.”

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