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'Rising in Unity': New Art on Display at FDSH - from The Messenger

April 29, 2021

Cardboard cutout hands of all shapes, colors and sizes hang in front of a sunset-colored backdrop in one of the display cases at Fort Dodge Senior High.

Those hands celebrate diversity. The sunset colors represent new beginnings and blending together, as hands of differing skin tones reach upward from the ground.

The work of art was created by students in Deidra Miller-Clay’s art appreciation class. It is called “Rising in Unity.”

The students developed a concept and put it to action using mostly cardboard and paint. But no one really knew how it would look until it was installed Wednesday afternoon.

“We have the overall vision, we just have to change and adjust as we go,” said Miller-Clay.

One by one students placed the cardboard hands in the display case. Some of the hands were taped against the glass, while others were hung by a string.

Next, came the backdrop, which was made from cardboard carriers that used to hold Google Chromebooks.

The backdrop was made from over a dozen of those cardboard carriers. And the students quickly learned how awkward it was to fit in the case when the boxes were strung together.

“We really don’t know how it’s all going to hold up,” Miller-Clay said.

Before the pieces could be put in the case, a shelf had to be removed by staff. Then, two non-art students offered their helping hands to hang the sunset backdrop.

students transporting the art backdrop to the display caseTwins Dalton and Draven McCuddin, 17, juniors, made sure the job was done right.

“I just have a study hall and I grabbed him really quick to help,” Draven McCuddin said.

As the installation was nearly finished, Miller-Clay said “Oh, I’ve got goosebumps.”

“Nice job, guys,” Miller-Clay added. “You guys should all be proud of yourselves.”

Antonio Martinez, 16, a sophomore, is one of the students who helped with the project.

He said it symbolizes “all races and sexualities to come together instead of being separated.”

Martinez said the class spent a couple of weeks on the project.

“I liked putting it together,” Martinez said.

Julia Sande, 16, a sophomore, said, “It’s a powerful message because this is how our society should be.”

Shaylee LaFleur, 17, a junior, said Miller-Clay has been as an inspirational teacher.

student touching glass window“I am definitely taking another class with her next year,” LaFleur said.

Lillian Kolacia, 17, a junior at St. Edmond Catholic School, comes to FDSH just to take the art class.

To her, the sunset colors are actually more of a sunrise.

“So it symbolizes a new day,” she said. “A symbol of equality.”

Niya Davis, 18, a senior, enjoyed playing a part in the project.

“I thought it was cool and very creative,” Davis said. “It’s meaningful.”

Miller-Clay said the class has been exploring a variety of contemporary installation artists throughout the semester.

“Our class has been so inspired by these artists, we decided to make our own installation art and bring a powerful message to our school,” she said. “With the climate of our nation beginning to open its eyes to the importance of supporting, acknowledging and loving those who are different than us, we wanted to create a work of art that echoed our beliefs of unity — unity for our school and unity through diversity in our community.”

Miller-Clay said the group worked well together.

“Because it’s a small class they feel more comfortable to work together as a group,” she said. “It’s easier for them to communicate ideas openly and freely.”

The artist statement of the class reads, “It is important that no matter our skin color we are all humans. We should love each other and be kind to one another.”

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