New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


The Wave Flows at Gaffney Elementary School

Connecticut artists, Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman are collaborating with the entire Gaffney Elementary School community in New Britain, and the New Britain Museum of American Art, to create an installation at the school of their traveling public art project, The Wave. The official opening of The Wave will be Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 9:30 a.m., at Gaffney School, 322 Slater Rd.

Involving over 600 students, teachers, parents and staff, The Wave is providing an opportunity for the school community to participate in a national project that fosters a new appreciation of water, one of life’s most essential elements, and generates a sense of pride, achievement and teamwork resulting from the process of creating a significant work of collaborative art. The artists have donated their time and the materials to the school.

In describing the reaction of students to The Wave, Gaffney art teacher, Ann Marie Stavola, related the responses of her first grade classes: “The first grade had me in tears; happy tears. They started singing, we are a HOT, HOT SCHOOL over and over as they created their Wave.”

The Wave is an Interactive Art Project that is being created during a series of public art installations at museums, outdoor festivals, gardens, schools and other venues in the vicinity of coastlines, rivers and lakes. It encourages participants of all ages and abilities to recognize their mutual connections to water and water events, such as the recent Hurricane Sandy, occurring in their own communities and all over the world as well as our joint responsibility to promote universal access to clean water.

The Wave is also a Community Engagement Project, connecting participants to one another and to their community through the shared process of contributing to a work of art on an important global issue. As they each cut a piece of 1’ x 2’ recyclable, polycarbonate film into a wave-like shape of their own design and ‘connect’ it to a wire flowing through the installation site, they are contributing to an ever growing, moving, dynamic wave in brilliant colors calling attention to the beauty, power and essential nature of water.

The New Britain Museum of American Art is hosting a version of The Wave using the pieces created by the Gaffney School community.

The Wave has been installed at the following venues over the past year:

• The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, as a part of exhibit entitled: “Ripple Effect, The Art of H2O” (August 2011)

• The Rose Fitzgerald Greenway, a ribbon of parks in the heart of Boston, MA, as a part of an Art Festival (September 2011)

• The Worthington Hooker School in New Haven, CT (November 2011)

• 2012 Connecticut Office of the Arts HOT School Institute, a highly acclaimed, week-long, residential conference for teachers, artists, administrators, staff members of arts organizations and parents interested in teaching and learning through the arts in Hartford, CT (June 2012)

• ENVISIONFEST HARTFORD, a festival in Downtown Hartford, CT celebrating a new, urban design plan for the city (September, 2012)

• Allegra LaViola Gallery, in NYC (November/December, 2012)

Michelle Moon, Assistant Director of Education for Adult Programs? at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA had this to say about the impact of The Wave on participants:

“…the artists worked with us to create a customizable, contributory and social art experience that our visitors loved. Novel materials, great coaching and artistic support, and a well-thought-out display method led to a fun interactive project with high visual impact and led to great discussions about the central nature of water in our lives.”

Susan Hoffman Fishman is a painter and public artist with a significant exhibition history in museums, galleries and alternative spaces in New York, Boston and throughout New England. She has received many commissions, grants, residences and awards and her work is in the permanent collections of the William Benton Museum at the University of Connecticut, the Aetna Life & Casualty Insurance Company, the Mid-state Medical Center and in private collections throughout the country. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts and a Master’s Degree in Art Education, Ms Fishman is also an independent education consultant to museums and school systems.

The Wave, Page Three

Elena Kalman is a painter, sculptor and architect with undergraduate and graduate degrees in art and architecture from the Kiev Art Institute and the Moscow

Architecture Institute, the birthplace of Russian Constructivism. Her architectural designs include many residential, cultural and commercial buildings in New York City. Her paintings were featured in one-person shows at the Ukrainian Institute in Manhattan, and at other New York and Connecticut venues. Her metal assemblages and drawings have been exhibited most recently in The Stamford Museum (Stamford, CT), at the Collaborative Concepts Outdoor Sculpture Exhibitions (Sounders Farm, Garrison, NY) and at the I-Park Foundation (Plantsville, CT).