Students use L.L. Bean as inspiration for Christmas artwork

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FREEPORT — Students of all ages helped create an art exhibit that interprets the “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Instead of the traditional lyrics, this project substitutes a moose wearing L.L. Bean boots for a partridge in a pear tree; two snowshoes for turtle doves; three holly boughs for french hens, four snowy owls for calling birds and five southbound geese for golden rings.

The installation is in the kids department at the L.L. Bean flagship store.

Local artist Mary Jo Marquis, founder of Fiddlehead Center for the Arts, helped to organize the project with teachers and students from all Regional School Unit 5 schools in Freeport, Pownal and Durham. Marquis now runs Yay For You, an organization that creates art projects for birthday parties, fundraising events or any special occasion.

Marquis said she has been an independent contractor for Bean for eight years, and has enjoyed working with the students to create the project.

“This is a fun idea with a unique twist,” she said. “We’ve changed the song to fit with Bean’s mission and represent nature, conservation, animals and the outdoors.”

Each school worked with a different media, from paints to paper mache, clay, mosaics or printmaking. Each work of art is mounted on a 20-by-30-inch birch panel and will be on display through Jan. 3.

Durham students made a linoleum print of six bears-a-sleeping. Their teacher Michelle Cook said the project was a great experience for her students.

“My students led the whole process and I served only as a guide,” Cook said in an e-mail. “My students were dedicated, responsible and driven. The final product reflects the student’s commitment and skill, I am so glad that they were given this experience.”

Chake Higgison, art teacher at Pownal Elementary and Morse Street schools, said the project was fun for the students and the teachers involved. Higgison said the students were challenged and engaged and took on each step with enthusiasm.

“There was a ‘real life’ goal – getting their art completed for L.L. Bean’s walls,” he said.

Students at Pownal Elementary created the 12 skiers skiing and students at Pownal and Morse Street worked to create four snowy owls.

The 12 skiers became a collaboration between students from third through sixth grades. With the help of Pownal Elementary teacher Linda Woodard, Higgison said the students created one task and passed it on to the next class.

The fifth-graders created the original skiers as wire armatures, then the sixth-graders added paper mache. The third and fourth grades added faces and clothes. The fifth grade made the skis and the sixth grade, kindergarten class and developmental primary program created the mountain.

Higgison said the students stuffed, taped and used paper mache to create the four owls and the textured background.

Lois Kilby-Chesley of Mast Landing School said the Spring Hill Program for grades 3-5 produced four of the art projects on display – five south-flying geese, seven children sledding, 10 deers-a-leaping and 11 skaters skating.

She said the project fit well with an economics unit, teaching students about the importance of community service.

“The opportunity to design and produce art projects for L.L. Bean fit well into our community service lessons,” she said. “We were able to have children work cooperatively to design and complete beautiful pieces of art that we are now able to share with the larger community of Freeport, and with the visitors to L.L. Bean. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm for the project and to observe the satisfaction that the children had for the final displays.”

Marquis said the projects exceeded her expectations.

“I was so happy so many students were involved,” she said. “And the community has wrapped their arms around it.”

Bean supplied the students with materials for the art projects and then donated $150 to each classroom, she said.

To see more of the student art, visit the Yay For You Facebook page.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or

Sidebar Elements

All the schools in Regional School Unit 5 participated to make an L.L. Bean version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Students from Pownal Elementary and Morse Street created four snowy owls.

Students at Pownal Elementary School collaborated to create 12 skiers skiing. The project will be on display in the L.L. Bean kids department through Jan. 3.