Pumpkin projects open to public at ARHS gallery

Andrew Wagstaff
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Art students focus on Halloween, similar holidays

AMHERST – For about 60 Amherst Regional High School students, Halloween is about much more than scares and candy. For Sara White’s art classes, it’s an opportunity to stretch the imagination.
The Art 12 students have created their own designs with pumpkins, while the Art 10 students have created paper mache sugar skulls, and all projects will be on display to the public at the school’s art gallery after school on Wednesday.

Amherst Regional High School art students Silvia Franca (left) and Alisha Christie are among those who will have their latest projects on display at the school's art gallery, which will be open to the public after school on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The Art 12 students worked on pumpkin etchings, while the Art 10 students created paper mache sugar skulls.

“It was our first time in class doing paper mache over molds,” said 16-year-old Alisha Christie, about working on the sugar skulls. “We let the molds dry, painted them afterwards, and tried to put our own spin on it.”

The variety of the skulls and pumpkins trickling in to the gallery on Tuesday afternoon was showing plenty of creativity from the students.

The project is designed to have the students learn not only from an artistic point of view, but also from a cultural viewpoint, White explained.

“The 10s did a quick study of Latin America’s Day of the Dead, so we kind of mimicked how they commemorate their loved ones,” she said. “The sugar skulls are a part of that. The students had to look at the folk art of Mexico and the purpose behind it, so it was a little more than just painting a design on it.”

For Silvia Fraca, an 18-year-old international student from Italy, the project was a memorable one. Ironically, while considered to be rooted in Mexico and South America, Day of the Dead also has ties to Italy, and the idea of the sugar skulls originally came over from the Italians, according to White.

“It was fun,” said Silvia. “It was cool because I had never done something like this. It was my first time with paper mache, and I think it’s very different as an art project.”

While last year’s pumpkin creations included both carvings and etchings, this year’s creations focus almost exclusively on etching, which White insisted on for more variety.

The Art 12 students worked on graduating their etchings from white to black and every shade in between.

“One thing about this project is they didn’t have 10 pumpkins to practice on,” said White. “They had a couple sacrificial pumpkins in the classroom the week before to test the tools, but it is primarily an instant-type project. It doesn’t last very long.”

The projects will be on display to students’ families and other members of the public on Wednesday, and will be judged in the categories of craftsmanship and design.

Next up for the Art 12 students will be continued work on creating a personal symbol for themselves, and then they will move into a colour study.


Twitter: @ADNandrew

Geographic location: Mexico, Italy, South America

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