“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas
If you’ve visited our building recently, you’ll notice a new sculptural piece hanging in our lobby. This project was made possible by a generous grant from our partners at Art Possible Ohio. Bryan Moss was selected as the project’s teaching artist.
I got to spend some time with Bryan throughout his creative process for the purposes of writing this blog post. Bryan wanted to create something that mirrored the passion & creativity of our learners from their perspective as students with autism and other developmental disabilities. As a long-time friend of Bridgeway Academy, he knew he needed to observe and get into the minds of our students. We took Bryan on a tour of our new facility; he got to sit in on classes, talk with our therapists, and even visit our sensory rooms. He also sat down and chatted with our co-founders and Executive Directors Abby David & Erin Nealy, to learn about our history, and their vision for Bridgeway Academy. It was very important for him to understand our mission, plans for the future, and expectations for his piece.
On Bryan’s first day of residency, I sat down with him to discuss what ideas he had come up with, and what the first steps of this project would look like. All around the room were colorful elements; streamers, disco lights, hula-hoops, and many different sketches of what looked like giant squids! He told me he really wanted the kids to be a part of this project, so he planned to organize opportunities for the students to come and create their own art pieces that would eventually be added to the sculpture. To do this, the craft had to be simple and yet universal for students of all ages to engage with and understand.
Over the next few days, Bryan met with all of the classrooms at Bridgeway Academy, so that everyone would have the opportunity to participate. Each student created tie-dye patches, first by drawing on them with markers, whatever they like, and then drip-dyeing them in cups. This allowed the students to learn to follow steps, complete a task, and make choices that would create something unique for them. I can honestly say that the entire staff was very impressed by what Bryan was able to do with the kids.
It was amazing to see how much the students enjoyed it, and the individual and creative things they designed!
Once all the students were finished, Bryan intended to sew the patches together to create the cover for the “exotype skeleton” he was making, with hula hoops and wire as the anatomy of the sculpture. After the mainframe piece was hung up, the fun part began! Bryan utilized hula lei’s to create the tentacle-type mechanisms along with the arms of the sculpture, then started dressing it in the sewn fabric that the students had dyed. He also added detailed components using pipe cleaners, cotton balls, streamers, and lights that created a colorful, fun, and playful look!
Finally, it was time to add the sound. Bryan was really inspired by the idea of our sensory elements throughout the building, seeing as they play such an important part in our students’ journeys and curriculum. So, he embedded a Bluetooth speaker on the inside of the sculpture that allows us to play calming rhythms or ASMR sounds that the students like. Our staff, students, and parents were very proud and pleased with the final result, and hope to have more opportunities like this in the future.
This piece really highlighted the values we hold not just as an organization, but for our students and clients as well. The kids get to see this every day, enjoy the sights and sounds, and even get to see the little piece they made as well. Our staff, students, and parents were very proud and pleased with the final result, and hope to have more opportunities like this in the future. Thank you, Bryan and Art Possible Ohio for bringing this piece to life!