AVA / Children's Silhouettes
This project was coordinated by Suzie Luft, a second-year medical student at Dartmouth Medical School, and completed during the summer of 2010 at AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, N.H., by students in an art class Luft taught for children with developmental disorders and chronic health conditions.
Luft became involved with Inside&Out after meeting Elisabeth Gordon, DHMC Arts Program Coordinator. Together, Gordon and Luft identified a site for the project: a grassy area outside of the East Patient Tower that had been classified by the Public Arts Project as a priority for artwork. Unlike most of the rooms in the hospital, which offer views of nature or distant vistas, these first-floor rooms overlook a gray retaining wall.
Luft and Gordon decided to paint the wall a soothing blue to suggest the sky. Each student then traced themselves in a variety of poses. Jeffrey Sass, a metal worker involved with AVA, then cut out each silhouette in aluminum, and sanded and burnished the edges. The students then painted the metal cutouts. The result is a series of eight silhouettes of children in exuberant poses such as handstands, running and waving, that were installed in the ground in front of the painted wall.
The children involved in this project were encouraged to focus on self-portrayal and personal expression. Luft identifies the theme of her work as helping people use art to express themselves, particularly those with alternative needs.
In addition to teaching two five-hour classes at AVA Gallery, Luft organized a community art festival held at Coburn Park in Lebanon in July 2010 as part of her Schweitzer Fellowship through The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. This distinguished award encourages graduate students to design a year-long service project that partners with community-based organizations with the goal of bringing about a positive impact on a health need. Luft’s family has largely shaped her interest in art and the value of working with individuals with developmental disorders. Both her parents are artists, and her sister has autism.
Funding for this project was provided by The Boyle Foundation; the Brie Fund, in memory of Brieanna Weinstein; The Community Health Care Education Fund; DHMC Arts; The Highfield Foundation; Dr. Keith and Nancy Johnson; and the Schweitzer Fellowship.
Inside&Out is funded in part by the Public Art program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible by generous support from Jane's Trust.
The project is located in the grassy area between the East Patient Tower and the MRI building.