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By Tammy Lane
Fayette County Public Schools
What do you get when you combine a plastic doll’s leg, animal bones, old tires, corrugated tin and other random items?
If you’re students in the advanced art class at Bryan Station High School in Lexington, you get a 17-foot-tall sculpture titled “Immersion.”
The piece – crafted with the help of local sculptor Frank Armstrong – is made up of items recovered from area waterways, including Town Branch, Wolf Run, South Elkhorn, as well as the Kentucky River.
“It’s nice to see it all come together,” junior Tori Jenkins said after its recent unveiling.
The nine students in the class attached the various items, including a metal lantern and a small soccer ball, to panels of scrap boards for stability. The overall structure is reminiscent of a rough-hewn clubhouse for kids.
“It definitely was a group effort. You couldn’t expect to do it by yourself,” Tori recalled. “It also showed us how much we litter and how we’re destroying our rivers by polluting.”
Armstrong missed the unveiling as he was traveling abroad, but colleague Bob Morgan was on hand along with longtime friend Mayor Jim Gray.
“One of the richest experiences of my life has been working with our arts community,” Gray told several dozen students gathered in the school foyer. “Art allows us to ‘connect the dots’ going forward. It gives us a reflection and an opportunity to examine the past.”
The sculpture flanks the front doors opposite the “junk” piece completed with Morgan last spring. Both were made possible by EcoART grants from LFUCG’s Department of Environmental Quality and LexArts, which fund creative projects that get people thinking about storm water, energy conservation, recycling and other environmental issues.
“We have many programs in our school to help students achieve their goals, but the EcoART grant partnership no doubt has spoken loudest,” said art teacher Marquetta Hensley.
“Mr. Armstrong exposed my students to a good work ethic, ecology awareness, visual art and local artists that he brought in to work and talk with my students. The students were intrigued and excited as the project became a reality. In fact, the most important part of the project was taking an idea and going through all the steps that made the idea a reality.”