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Middle School Students Reflect on What Lifts Them through Art Installation

Middle School students have learned about self-awareness and positivity through an interactive, collaborative, multimedia assignment. Click to see photos of the #WhatLiftsODA project.
Over the past few weeks, Ms. Stephanie Paas introduced her students to the work of Kelsey Montague, an American artist who has received international acclaim for the larger-than-life murals she paints. Ms. Montague’s project “#whatliftsyou” has been used by art educators to teach important lessons in creativity, positivity, and the power of social media.

#WhatLiftsYou is large scale artwork that depicts an enormous set of angel wings paired with the hashtag as a statement about positivity. The artist has traveled to various cities to create these giant pieces of street art. The intent of the exhibition is to invite bystanders to stand in the center of the wings and have their photo taken, then post the image on Instagram with the hashtag and a comment about what they find personally uplifting to share their positivity with the world.

Our Middle School students began their version of the #WhatLiftsYou project by working with tempera to paint multi-colored gradients which were then cut into individual feather silhouettes. They were asked to write about three things in their lives that lift or inspire them, and sketch out ideas before beginning to work. Each student then used white colored pencils on the colorful feathers to draw the people, places, ideas, shapes, and designs that they had outlined. Feathers were decorated with soccer balls, musical notes, iconic locations, family members’ names, and more, in addition to soothing linear designs.

Once the feathers were complete, they were brought down to the lobby of the Arts Building and assembled into a pair of wings, leaving a space in the center for students to stand and have their photo taken. Students were asked to post the photos on their social media platform of choice with the hashtag “#WhatLiftsODA” to share their own positivity with the ODA community. We look forward to reading these messages of encouragement, insight, and joy, and invite you to take your own photo with the wings to share online!
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