Northside High School students make "Music in the Falls"

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comMay 19, 2013 

Northside High School senior Chris Fesco looked at the sculpture he and his classmates produced and summed up its significance.

"It's awesome to think that you're a part of something that's going to be here for years, that's permanent," he said. "If you do return, you can come back and see your piece. It really leaves a mark on the school."

Chris is among the 19 students in Mary Beth Fineout's Art II and Art III classes who created "Music in the Falls," on display in the gallery of the school's auditorium.

Last fall, Fineout decided it was time to do something with the irreparable piano in her art room. With the help of Northside drama teacher Isiah Harper and CSU senior theater major Rick Stone, the piano was taken apart and left in pieces. Northside senior Kyle Stewart led the effort to saw in half the other discarded instruments: a string bass, a cello and several violins.

When the spring semester began, Fineout challenged her students with a group project to create a static sculpture that somehow depicts movement. They viewed sculptures by professional artists to generate concepts.

"We went through so many different things figuring out what it was going to be," said Northside senior Jami Farrow. "It was going to be a fire, then a tree, and finally it came out to be a waterfall."

Northside sophomore Katharyn Pittman envisioned that idea.

"I was thinking about the piano keys and how they could be used in a downward motion," she said.

Northside junior Jenna Hibbs added, "Music can be looked at in a different way, other than just playing music."

The students made graphite drawings, then scale models before starting the main piece. They used copper wire to fasten the "falling" keys. Northside maintenance director Joey Whitehead constructed a portable base to accommodate the sculpture that measures 4 feet by 5 feet by 8 feet.

The students liked the title Fineout suggested to them, especially with the whitewater course opening next weekend on the Chattahoochee River.

"We talked about the fact that their is a river in Columbus and there's a process going on to release the rapids and tear down the dams," Fineout said. "Some of them, not all of them, realized that connection. Some of them have never been to the river."

Northside senior Rachel Lewack marveled at learning how a piano works -- from the inside out.

"I didn't know about all those little hammers and things we could transform into almost anything," she said. "It's just amazing how it all functions together as a whole."

It also was amazing how these individual artists functioned together during this project, the students and teacher said.

"It began with arguing, lots and lots of disagreement," Jami said with a laugh. "But then we all kind of broke up into groups. It all worked really well because we call came together, and it looks fantastic now."

Fineout called it one of her most enjoyable projects in 12 years of teaching.

"It's just been incredible to see it come to fruition," she said. "In teaching and in life, there's always time when anything worth getting means you have to go through some struggles. … There are spats and sparks -- sparks in good ways and bad ways -- but it's fun to see the kids really get something out of it.

"I'm proud of the students and their work, the quality of their work. They embraced it. I do think it's meaningful to them that they can leave something behind."PARTICIPATING STUDENTS

The following Northside High School students in Mary Beth Fineout's Art II and Art III classes produced the "Music in the Falls" sculpture during the 2013 spring semester:

Ashlee Chambers, Kiana Davis, Nicholas Dyksma, Alyssa Fencher-Morris, Gabriel Hart, Jenna Hibbs, Stephen Kolb, Rachel Lewack, Ashley Little, April Merritt, Haley Michels, Disha Patel, Katharyn Pittman, Tiera Roberts, Morgan Ryffe, Colton Stephens, Jami Farrow, Christopher Fesco and Kyle Stewart.

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