This past year, the Wexner Center partnered with Columbus International High School (CIHS) to guide a few of the school’s teachers and their students as they explored and, eventually created, socially conscious art. Throughout the school year, under the umbrella of the center’s Art in Action program, CIH visited our galleries and also played host to local artist Tariq Tarey. These initial experiences were designed to help students and teachers understand how artists can use their work as a vehicle for communication and social change. Following the mantra “we are all international” as a guide, CIH worked with the support and resources of the center to design and create their own piece, eventually titled Message in a Bottle. The artistic process and guiding ideas behind the work were integrated into the students’ AP French, International Seminar, and World Arts Survey classes. Each hanging bottle was created by an individual student or teacher, and each bottle contains objects and writing that hold personal meaning for the artist.
Wex staff and volunteers carried out the installation of Message in a Bottle on the stage of Mershon Auditorium, where teachers and CIHS students and their families were able to view it during a reception, hosted by the Wexner Center, to celebrate the year’s partnership. Message in a Bottle will eventually be reinstalled at Columbus International High School.
Here’s an excerpt from the school’s artist statement:
“The mixed-media artwork captures the spirit of our school and tells a story about our students, teachers and staff to the larger community about where we come from. Our past and present experiences shape who we are and allow us to celebrate our rich heritage, diverse languages, and multiethnic community at the Columbus International High School.”
CIH student Karen Castro sums up the project beautifully in these words: “It’s a unifying representation of people. It’s beautiful because it cherishes all of who we are and connects us as individuals.”
—Tracie McCambridge, Educator for Docent and Teacher Programs