Art and Poetry Celebration and Book Launch with Drury High School Students

Ninth grade students from teacher Melissa Cairn’s English class at Drury High School will celebrate the publication of a book of their original poetry, created in response to a visit to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA.

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Eighty-five ninth grade students from Drury High School visited the Clark Art Institute on March 29, 2015 and wrote original poetry based on a painting that they chose from the museum’s collection. The visit to the Clark was part of teacher Melissa Cairn’s “Art and Poetry” curriculum unit that helps students in her ninth grade English class make connections between the written and visual arts, building important critical thinking, communication and literacy skills.

During the visit to the Clark students explored paintings with Clark Education staff and docents and took part in dynamic poetry writing exercises with their teacher. After these exercises and conversations each student chose a painting they were inspired by and began the creative process of writing an original poem. Back in the classroom they built on their experiences with art and poetry and distilled their thoughts into a short essay exploring the connections between their poem and painting.

The book “Writing on the Devil’s Walls” presents the students’ work – the art work they chose, and the poem and essay they wrote – in published form. The book and its launch on May 4 celebrate the creativity and hard work of the students and the inspired teaching of Melissa Cairns, their teacher. The May 4 book launch celebration will include food, music and poetry reading, copies of the book, and screening of a video produced by Joanne Hurlbut at Northern Berkshire Community Television (NBCTC) that describes the Art and Poetry unit and making of the book.

The museum visit, publication and celebration were produced and supported by a collaboration of Drury High School, The Clark Art Institute, and the Art Museum Partnership for Education, Inc. (AMPED), a non-profit partnership of the Clark, MASS MoCA and the Williams College Museum of Art that aims to produce unique learning opportunities around the arts for secondary school students.

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