It snowed this past week. Westport schools were on winter break.
But Coleytown Middle School was filled. Busily and happily, volunteers hung art.
After renovation was completed in January, the Westport Public Art Collections committee got ready to reinstall over 70 works that were removed last year.
Town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz noticed a beautifully refurbished, vast empty wall in the main staircase. It screamed for a giant piece to fill it
WestPAC had none. But Bennewitz and Westport Arts Advisory Committee chair Nancy Diamond had a plan.
WAAC member artist Eric Chiang — who lives near CMS — creates large, multi-canvas acrylic paintings depicting themes like love, connection and hope. Many are colorful and fantastical — perfect for middle schoolers and a big, blank wall.
Could Chiang loan the school one of his pieces?
Chiang measured the wall, photoshopped a few images onto it, then suggested possibilities for consideration.
CMS Principal Kris Szebo created a survey to engage students and teachers in the decision-making process. A vote was taken.
The winner: Are We Born Connected? The triptych acrylic on canvas measures 4 feet by 15 feet.
Chiang notes, “The sound of the cello is in the same range of that of human beings. I used cellos to represent humans, emphasizing their voices. The big cello in the foreground faces two choices: Sing a solo dirge like those floating cellos on the left, or band together for Ode to Joy and celebrate the existences together like those cellos on the right. We are wounded, we are in despair, but we have each other. We are born connected, and can sing together.”
Are We Born Connected? is on loan to CMS until the end of the school year. The fanciful work will greet the students when they come back from vacation tomorrow.
The public may not visit, due to security protocols and COVID. But the piece can be viewed on the WAAC website — along with more than 1,500 other works from Westport’s extensive public collection.
(Click here for more of Eric Chiang’s work. Hat tip: Nancy Diamond.)