Up, Up, and Away: Scots Art Soars to New Heights

At Saint Andrew’s School, Scots unlock their creative potential through a variety of different art classes, projects, and activities. In the Upper School, students in Mr. Ron Garrett’s Studio Foundations class are learning the fundamentals of art through a series of unique assignments that challenge them to channel their individual personalities and intertwine them into their art-making.

Recently, students in Mr. Garrett’s class have been tasked with designing sculptural airplanes that represent realistic airplane models. When juniors Seema Thakkar and Colin Rodriguez were tasked with this project last year, both students went through the motions of any other class project. They chose a model, created the sculpture, and felt proud of their finished product by the end of the semester. However, this project wasn’t just any other assignment, and neither student could have predicted what was to come.

Fast forward a year later, to Thursday, September 27, 2018, when both Seema and Colin found themselves with their airplanes again, however this time, it was outside of the classroom studio and in the Boca Raton Airport.

Coming up on their 70th anniversary, the Boca Raton Airport wanted to do something special to celebrate the year that marks their conversion from a military airport to a public use airport. With a motto that reads, “Helping Our Community Soar,” the airport used this celebration as an opportunity to open its doors for decorative submissions from nearby institutions.

To Seema and Colin’s surprise, their model airplanes, along with their classmate's designs, were chosen as the featured art pieces to hang on the walls of the lobbies of the airport’s two Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) — Atlantic Aviation BCT and Signature Flight Support BCT —  and will soon be on display in the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection building.

In choosing the artwork for the 70-year mark, the airport wanted to note not only its own history, but also the role the airport has played in the history and development of the Boca Raton community. Saint Andrew’s School shares a place in that history, as one of the oldest institutions in Boca. “To commemorate our roots in the military to our transition to public transportation, we wanted to showcase something that reflects both aviation and the community,” said Clara Bennett, Boca Raton Airport Authority (BRAA) Executive Director.

“This has been a great opportunity for us to partner with another local institution to help showcase the role of aviation. These students have created these beautiful pieces of art that reflect aviation and what we do as an airport. I think it’s really important for us to show how airplanes can touch people's lives and inspire young people as well,” said Ms. Bennett.

As for Saint Andrew’s School, this art showcase ties in with the school’s aviation partnership with Lynn University in which students can earn their pilots license and instrument rating by the time they graduate. A new addition, this program is yet another example of how students are inspired by aviation.

The model planes created by students in Mr. Garrett’s Studio Foundations class are intended to be replicas of airplanes used throughout history. Tasked with mirroring the many parts that make up the model, students were also encouraged to put their own creative spin on the piece, making the sculpture their own. This specific project takes several weeks to complete but provides students with a sense of satisfaction, pride, and individuality after finishing the project process.

For Seema and Colin, seeing their artwork displayed in the outside community after a semester of dedicated work is a truly fulfilling feeling that goes above and beyond the expectations of their project outcomes.

“There were many steps that went into creating the airplanes. From planning, to designing, to painting - designing the models required patience and dedication,” said Seema. “I feel proud that my plane was chosen to be featured but I mostly feel proud that the Visual Arts department at Saint Andrew’s got some recognition for all of the work that we do.”

Following the success of her work, Seema is now mentoring current Studio Foundations students with their very own airplane models. “It’s important for me to mentor these current students because when I look back to last year, I remember the points at which I struggled, and I want to be able to help these students create their work and get past those struggles,” said Seema.

Colin, a lover of airplanes and a West Point hopeful, has been involved in aviation for quite some time. Currently, Colin is a member of the Civil Air Patrol of Boca Raton, which allows him to volunteer and dedicate his time to learning more about aviation through hands-on experiences that offer him operational and leadership skills, as well as basic emergency response and disaster relief training. For Colin, having a chance to focus on aviation and create a plane he has loved since he was a child made this project feel more like fun and less like school work.

“For my project, I created an A-10 Warthog, which is one of the standard attack jets for the U.S. military,” said Colin. “I chose this airplane because I’ve been interested in it since I was younger. I really enjoy learning about the military and am inspired by a lot of the things that come from it.”

Colin added, “Being featured in the Boca Raton Airport is a great opportunity; it broadened the connections I have through Civil Air Patrol and through the school. It makes me feel proud of my work because I never expected to get this kind of recognition for it.”

When Mr. Garrett assigned this project, he did so with several goals in mind. He wanted students to understand the process of creating artwork and the many steps one has to go through before coming to the finished product. More importantly, however, he wanted his students to create work that they were proud of, using art as a tool for self-discovery and self-expression.

After seeing the art displayed in the Boca Raton Airport and its ability to create an immersive experience for fliers, Mr. Garrett was able to see the project and its purpose come full circle. “Showing work on campus here at Saint Andrew’s is always a wonderful thing. Every student loves to see their work. But showing the work outside of the Scots community, such as at the airport, allows the art to tell a bigger story,” said Mr. Garrett.
 
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the students and their journeys in creating their artwork.”

You can read more about the aviation-inspired art exhibit on the Boca Raton Airport website.
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A non-profit, independent, co-educational school for grades JK - 12, Saint Andrew's School is both a private day and boarding school located in Boca Raton, educating the best students from across Palm Beach County, Florida, the United States, and throughout the world in the Episcopal tradition.
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