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Science and the arts showcased at Toronto school event



AN ARRAY OF ART — Maureen Taggart, Toronto superintendent of schools; and her husband, Fred, surveyed a wall filled with art created by students at Toronto Junior-Senior High School during the Art and Science Night held Thursday at the school. — Warren Scott

TORONTO — A connection between science and art can be found as long ago as the 16th century, when Leonardo da Vinci sketched the muscles, veins and organs he observed in dissected cadavers.

And the link between the disciplines was evident Thursday when a variety of art and science projects, many incorporating the former, were displayed during Toronto Junior-Senior High School’s Art and Science Night.

The annual event is coordinated by Amanda Speece, who teaches art for grades 6-12, and Michelle Blazak, who teaches a variety of science courses at the school, with help from Nikki Wright, art instructor for Toronto Elementary School.

The line between art and science was blurred even by the works of Wright’s young pupils, whose drawings of rabbits, baby chicks, cows and dinosaurs were displayed.

Their creations were among an array of art displayed along the school’s tall corridors, which suited the life-size body charts produced by Blazak’s anatomy students.

The teens were charged with tracing themselves on sheets of paper about 4 feet wide and 9 feet long, then sketching over them any of the body’s 12 systems, adding details about their functions.

Parents, classmates and other guests also found three-dimensional constructs depicting the human body, with clay, pipe cleaners and balloons used to replicate various organs. A QR code was displayed by each so visitors could access information about the displays on their phones.

Graphics were used to convey the results of an investigation by the school’s Biology I students into a hypothetical murder through a DNA analysis of the blood left at the scene of the crime.

Blazak said after watching 60-minute episodes of “CSI” and similar series, the students were surprised to learn the amount of time required for such a study.

“We have a few graduates studying forensics in college right now,” she noted.

While noting artistic skill can be very useful to professionals in the field of science, both it and the art world value “people who are able to look outside of the box.”

The school’s art students got a closer look at their own bodies while creating replicas of their hands, arms and legs by covering themselves with wrapping tape, the sticky side out, and carefully cutting away the “molds” with scissors.

Speece explained the reproductions of heads were done with mannequins.

A few students created hands delivering the symbol of peace (or victory, depending on one’s age), while one created a pair of arms held up to a head wearing headphones.

There were a variety of realistic and fanciful paintings and sketches ranging from assorted skylines against a night or blue sky to black-and-white sketches of friends, family members and celebrities.

The latter included a portrait of famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix with his full Afro and other features of his face comprised of the letters of his name.

Those who missed the JB Green Team’s Trashy Art Contest earlier this year at the Fort Steuben Mall had an opportunity to see entries created by Toronto students from recycled materials.

Speece noted the many one-dimensional “houses” submitted as individual entries were combined to form a “3D City” for Thursday’s event.

She said the building’s eaves were created with assorted frame samples donated by a shop that was going out of business.

She estimated about 500 works of art were displayed on Thursday.

Art instructors from neighboring school districts were recruited to judge the works and top finishers were named in several categories.

Top finishers for the middle school category were: Ana Rex, first place; Damien Shurwin, second place; Alara Sims, third place; Elizabeth Smith, fourth place; Matix Clapham, fifth place; and the following honorable mentions: Milana Busby, Kaydee Yeager, Jasmine Rutherford, Braeden Record and Callie Brown.

Top finishers among high school students in the drawing (pencil or charcoal) category were: Gracee Rex, first place; Addison Izzo, second place; Kamryn Kuhn, third place; and Riley Minadeo, honorable mention.

High school top finishers for drawings using color media were: Gracie Ludwig, first place; Isabelle Cattrell, second place; Jeff Fogle, third place; and Andrea Reeves and Addison Izzo, honorable mention.

Receiving honors for the best paintings were high school students Gracee Rex, who received first place; Caylea Jones, second place; Megan Fogle, third place; and Kendra Board, Koletin Burkey and Mason Marchbank, honorable mention.

Top finishers in the category of sculpture or three-dimensional works were Gracie Ludwig, first place; Steven Ohalek, second place; Ty Suffoletta, third place; and Amiah Collins, Noah Karaffa, Chloe Fisher and Ludwig, honorable mention.

Providing music for the event were ensembles of the school’s band and choir led by instructors Mike McCarthy and Cassie Zimmerman, including a drum line that tapped out their selection on empty buckets

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