Arts Schools

Hall Students Create ‘Living Art Gallery’

MacKenzie Snow spends the school day 'living' as the character in a painting as part of Hall High School's Painting Project. May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.
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Nearly a dozen students at West Hartford’s Hall High School become characters in pieces of art as part of a project for an acting class.

By Gillian Hixson

The halls of Hall High School were turned into what acting teacher Sasha Bratt describes as “a living art gallery” on Wednesday, May 17.

About a dozen of Bratt’s students took part in the class’s “Painting Project,” a five- to six-week effort that culminates in a school day’s performance to live out their selected painting. The objective? Tell a story by bringing a painting to life.

According to Bratt, the purpose of the Painting Project is to hone acting students’ skills in character development. To be successful, each student must have a thorough knowledge of their painting, have a clear understanding about the inner life of their character, and be open to improvisation.

Students start by identifying three or four paintings that speak to them and eventually narrow down to one piece, Bratt said. After selecting their painting, the students maintain journals: one as the character in their painting and one as the creator.

The purpose of the journals, Bratt explained, is to help the students create a backstory for their painting, since fellow Hall High students are able to ask the characters questions during the installation.

The dedication and creativity of these students was apparent, as the installation truly felt as though one is walking through a living, breathing art museum. One student sat inside a glass display case reading a book. Another played in a homemade sandbox outside in the scorching heat. One planted flowers and even dug his own grave.

Despite fellow students walking through the halls between classes, the acting students remained in character until the bell signifying the end of the school day rang.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

MacKenzie Snow spends the school day ‘living’ as the character in a painting as part of Hall High School’s Painting Project. May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 7, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall acting student Patrick Rodriguez “living” his painting, pictured above. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2016. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Painting Project, Hall High School, May 17, 2016. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

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Gillian Hixson

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