VHS Art Club gets commissioned for Earth Day sculpture

Vandegrift sophomores Emily Huang and Nidhi Katta building their commissioned piece called “Ariel”. THAO ROTH

By CODI FARMER, Vandegrift Voice

Vandegrift sophomores Emily Huang and Nidhi Katta started celebrating Earth Day early this year. The VHS Art Club they lead received a check from the Leander Parks and Recreation board for a sculpture of wings entitled “Ariel”. The piece was made entirely out of recycled materials and was submitted for an Earth Day sculpture competition last year. Not only did the club win first place for their category, but it also got commissioned to create a more durable version of the wings to be placed in the new Leander park being designed called Lakewood Park.

“Originally, we made it out of cans and cardboard and the cans were cut into feathers,” Huang said. “We ended up winning first place in the wall hanging category of the competition and we were paid extra money to make another set that would be more durable so it could be put outside.”

The Leander Public Arts Commission had been searching for sculptures for the park and after not getting many responses from area artists, the commission decided to go searching in school competitions.

“We loved the concept so we bought that from these students,” said Ashli Williamson, Leander Public Arts Commission representative.  

Huang and Katta headed up the project for the Art Club. They pieced together the sculpture after students in the club helped get all the materials cut and ready. Many extra hours were spent on the project.

“During the summer, we spent time testing what we could do to make it last outside,” Huang said.

Lakewood will be a disability and handicap oriented park which makes it the ideal location for the wings, Williamson said. Although, she added, “we don’t know exactly where [the park will] be yet.”  

The relatively new Leander Public Arts Commission is interested in purchasing student art moving forward. The VHS piece was one of the earlier student pieces commissioned.

“They will put it up on a wall and make sure you can stand in front of it and take a picture where it looks like you have wings,” Huang said. “That’s why they chose it, they were interested in the idea of interacting with it.”

Huang and Katta came up with the entire concept and the name of the piece.  

“‘Ariel’ is basically the angel of earth,” Huang said. “It maintains the earth’s quality and its health, and we thought that was an interesting idea. It also contributed a lot to why we make it [look] like a rainbow.”

It’s rare for student artists to get commissioned.

“Usually, artists have to apply to have their work put in public places, but to be asked is such a great opportunity, so I was just so proud of them,” Vandegrift art teacher Thao Roth said.

Emily Huang and Ashli Williamson posing in front of “Ariel” before the Leander Public Arts Commission takes them for their new park. THAO ROTH