Two ArtPrize entries being displayed at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport feature Forest Hills Public Schools students. Here, read the stories behind the artwork, on display through Oct. 7.
VOTE #68808 “Matthew’s View”
When Matthew Howing greets those who have come to the second floor observation deck to see the work created by him and his dad, he makes eye contact, gives a firm handshake and introduces himself — sometimes in multiple languages.
He is displaying social skills that have surfaced most visibly since his art was featured in the district’s spring art show at the Fine Arts Center, said Christopher Thomas, Matthew’s teacher in Eastern High’s autism spectrum disorder classroom.
“A few years ago, he would have just grumbled,” Thomas said. “Now, his ability to open and close a conversation has been incredible.”
“Konnichiwa,” Matthew says, offering the Japanese greeting with a bow. “Welcome to a brand-new shape of great art.”
His father, Thomas Howing, shakes his head and smiles. “Talk about coming out of your shell. He’s coming out of his ocean. If this keeps up we’re going to have to get him an agent.”
The father-son piece, an over 7-foot architectural acrylic stand built by Thomas Howing, is covered with his son’s school artwork: drawings in marker that include “polka dots, dominoes, big music notes, a shape like a church and Scottish, British and Switzerland colors,” Matthew said.
According to the artist statement, Matthew’s “pencils, pens and paper have become the vehicle in which observation and expression pours through him, showing a perspective unadulterated. A perspective that seems only achieved when societal norms, which the majority of us feel obligated to settle for, are beyond reach. What he creates is pure and powerful.”
VOTE #68129 “A Child’s Garden”
Elementary art teacher Tim Donohoe said it’s a state art education standard that elementary students have “a gallery experience.” For nearly 500 who attend Pine Ridge Elementary, that standard has been satisfied in about the biggest way they could imagine: Their collaboration is displayed inside the airport’s main entrance, opposite an airline check-in counter. It has the potential to be viewed by thousands.
Every K-4 Pine Ridge student painted a flower of his or her own creation onto 4.25-inch-by-4.25-inch tiles, which were glazed and fired. Over the summer, Donohoe built a 5-foot high, 20-foot long wooden display rack to hold them.
The piece’s theme, according to the artist statement, is “an exploration of the garden as a symbol of growth, life, and nurture. What grows in your garden? Who helps it grow? What fruit do you want it to bear?”
And a school, as in a garden, is filled with individual entities who “do something together, as part of something huge,” Donohoe said.