My first legitimate freelance job is with the Hillsboro High School Parent-Teacher Organization, writing weekly stories about good news happening in and around the school. It is my pleasure to share with you today a great story of collaboration, dedication, and creativity.
Painting Outside of the Box
|photo via Myles Maillie
Nashville artist Myles Mailliehas affinity for big art.
High school students do great work, he says, but unfortunately it’s almost always too small—a product of limited resources and space. To combat this problem, Maillie, who graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1969, came up with a plan to think outside of the box—literally.
This March, with the help of over 65 students from his alma mater, Maillie created a 9×20 foot structure made of over 60 stacked and colorfully painted cardboard boxes. Describing the sculpture Maillie simply said, “bigger is better.”
Early this year, a Hillsboro family reconnected Maillie to art teacher Marti Profitt-Streuli after hearing his vision to collaborate artistically with all 15 Metro Comprehensive Public High Schools. At Hillsboro, Maillie’s goal was to create a colorful but cheap painting that would, with its towering size, bring new life to the building.
Juniors and seniors in Profitt-Streuli’s International Baccalaureate art classes submitted designs for each side of the 360-degree sculpture in early March. Maillie chose the final three designs, sketched by students Catherine Choy, Jack Britton, and Jack Prine. Over the next three class periods, Maillie and Profitt-Streuli’s talented students collaborated to transform the original sketches into the largest piece of art the school has ever created.
“At first I was really excited,” said junior Catherine Choy, whose design was chosen for one side of the project, “but then I felt some pressure because we are all working together, and we wanted it to be great.”
Maillie directed the project with patience, explaining technique, strategy, and reminding the students to have fun. Though this was the first time for some juniors and seniors to paint, Choy said, working with a professional helped students feel more confident about their contributions.
“Maillie was very hands on,” junior Jack Britton agreed, who produced the vortex-circle design that covers another side of the three dimensional painting. Jack decided to use circles, he said, because he felt it would be more easily transferred from paper to the large surface.
The structure posed a greater challenge for the junior Jack Prine, whose design included a face from the movie “Clockwork Orange.”
“It was difficult to expand my drawing up to scale,” Prine said, “especially the eyes. But when we added color, it took attention away from any of my slight mistakes.”
All of the artists, no matter their level of expertise, agreed that the vibrant color and great size make the piece remarkable. Also, the sculpture can be easily disassembled and transported, since it’s made of cardboard—something that Maillie believes should make this kind of art attractive across Nashville.
“I hope that when people see it, the idea can spread to other schools,” Maillie said. “Think of large municipal buildings that could be decorated by high school students.”
The painting will be on display at Hillsboro High School’s Festival of the Arts, which will be held the evening of Thursday, April 19th.