Sculpture gift at Falmouth schools much more than public art

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FALMOUTH — A new piece of public art that will be installed at the high school is also being designed to function as an educational tool.

The idea to create an original artwork that could also become “a centerpiece of the curriculum” at the Falmouth schools was the brainchild of Dr. Charles de Sieyes, a long-time resident and proponent of the School Department.

In making his proposal, de Sieyes said his goal was to create an installation “that would function as something much more than public art.”

After de Sieyes approached the School Department with his idea, Dan O’Shea, the school finance director, said, “we thought it would be great to have a piece of community art that would touch all the schools, be a real focal point and include a lot of disciplines.”

Working with a committee of art teachers that included Katie Hall, Simon Adams and Sue Morse, de Sieyes commissioned Maine sculptor Jesse Salisbury to create something unique.

Salisbury is working with a piece of Maine granite, what de Sieyes described as a “26-ton rock found on the blueberry barrens upstate.” The $70,000 cost of the project is being borne solely through private donations, and $45,000 has been raised so far.

Among the initial donors are the Bob Crewe Foundation and the Dunlap Charitable Fund, de Sieyes said.

But anyone who would like to contribute can send a tax-deductible donation to: Falmouth Public Schools, 51 Woodville Road, Falmouth, Maine 04105. Put the term “Sculpture Project” in the memo line.

The goal, according to de Sieyes, is for the granite sculpture to be formerly installed in the spring, just in time for Falmouth’s 300th anniversary celebrations.

O’Shea said the sculpture would liven up the green space in the middle of the high school bus loop.

He called that “a great location” and said the overall project is “a wonderful thing for the schools.”

While de Sieyes is the driving force behind the sculpture project, he said, “student participation in every phase of this project is paramount.”

As part of that mandate, high school students have put together a short documentary video explaining the project and Salisbury has also opened his studio to students and given a lecture to the high school design class.

A link to the video will be added to the School Department website in the coming weeks, O’Shea said.

Salisbury is also scheduled to make a presentation to the School Board in early December describing the project and how it integrates all types of subjects from math to engineering to fine arts, to film and writing.

In a joint email, Hall, Adams and Morse said they were excited to sign on to the project because “we recognized there would be great learning opportunities for our students (and we) relished the idea of supporting public art.”

“There are limitless learning opportunities provided by Jesse Salisbury’s sculpture,” the art teachers said. “Beyond visual art, the sculpture provides cross-curricular focus on math, physics, geology, history and engineering. The sculpture also can be used to engage students in writing, philosophy, mindfulness and the humanities.”

The teachers said it was also key to involve all three of Falmouth’s schools because the sculpture is “a gift to our (entire) community. Therefore, all the schools and the town should have access.”

Salisbury’s design was chosen, they said, because “it complemented the space best. It also spoke to the committee artistically and philosophically, and offered the most learning opportunities for our students.” 

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

A rendering of what a completed sculpture will look like at Falmouth High School. The goal of the art piece is to incorporate all aspects of the curriculum.

The 26-ton piece of granite being used to create the Falmouth sculpture was found on northern Maine blueberry barrens.

Figuring out how to best cut the stone was a lesson in geometry.

These cutouts are a key piece of a new public art sculpture that will be installed at Falmouth High School in the spring.

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  • Mainer1

    Somehow, someone will find this as racist

    • Triple 3

      No, just not appealing to the eye. It takes away the view to the nice looking building that the taxpayers over paid for.

  • EdBeem

    Jesse Salisbury is one of the two or three best sculptors working in Maine and Falmouth has every right to be proud of how his art elevates their building.