A School Journey in a Thousand Tiny Pieces

The students at Hingham’s Derby Academy with the guidance of artist Sally Dean recently completed and installed a mosaic mural in front of the school’s newly constructed Innovation Center. The project completed by the hands of students and art teacher Mary Ellen Olson was two years in the making. The idea for the new installation came from art director Alice McWilliams while she was visiting a school in her home state of Hawaii. “I was struck by how it captured the distinctive sense of place and the timeless values that the school works to instill in students. It’s something that art does quite well, and I was convinced that Derby Academy has a rich story worth telling in such a medium,” say McWilliams.

Seventh and eighth graders designed the mural, which illustrates a bird arriving to campus, interacting with new friends, and seeking counsel along the way. Derby 2015 graduate Nicole McDonough writes: “At the end of the mosaic is the moon, showing how the journey of pursuing an education at Derby is similar to a day. You begin nervous and eager to learn in kindergarten, in the middle grades you are determined to master school work and yourselves and at the end of the day, in eighth grade, you are proud of your achievements but are ready to face whatever the next day brings.”

It’s not the school’s first mural: others created by students in Dean’s summer arts courses decorate the school walls. “Community installations can provide a vehicle for self-expression and the opportunity for people to share ideas and experience the joy of making art with others,” says art teacher Mary Ellen Olson. “As people of all ages stop to observe the mural, they often seem delighted by the brilliant variety of colors and textures in the mosaic panels, and identify with many of the images as they reflect on their personal experience at school.” Derby Academy, 56 Burditt Ave., Hingham, 781-749-0746

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