Art, Nature, and Education Intersect with CH-CH's 'Campus as Canvas'

Posted by Maeve Doolan on 4/17/19 3:02 PM

In the spring of 2016, the Visual and Performing Art (VPA) department launched the “Campus as Canvas” program at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School. The concept behind the program was to find ways to use the School’s campus to help facilitate learning, beautify the campus, and show the diverse culture that CH-CH fosters. The Campus as Canvas program is meant to demonstrate the School’s support of the arts through enhancing and expanding the visual art spaces on campus. With three installations complete, CH-CH is excited to begin work on the fourth with the esteemed local metal fabricator and artist, Alaina Mahoney.


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The program has been designed so that one permanent sculpture from a New England-based artist is installed on campus each year. In addition, each year the VPA department implements programming that allows the artist and students to learn from one another. This has come to fruition in many ways such as classroom visits, help with installation, all school presentations, studio visits and more. This type of learning, where students get to learn from real artists making work in the art world, is invaluable to our students.


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Maeve Doolan's "Totem"


It has been exciting to see the vision of Campus as Canvas become a reality. So far three sculptures have been installed, with our most recent installation symbolically kicking-off our Building Creativity: The Campaign for the Arts event in spring 2018. The process began when CH-CH art teacher Maeve Doolan installed her plaster and wood sculpture, “Totem,” in front of the Barn in 2016. The following year, David Allen ’93 installed the sculpture, “Soapstone Sphere,” in the Nancy S. Emery Memorial Garden on the backside of the Learning Commons on Lexington Street. This year, Boston area sculptor Jon Koppel installed a steel sculpture, “Herons,” outside Peebles, the admissions building, which was unveiled during the kickoff event.


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David Allen's "Soapstone Sphere"

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Jon Koppel's "Herons"


Metal fabricator and artist, Alaina Mahoney, has been chosen as the artist for the 2018-19 installation, which will coincide with the renovated Barn unveiling and opening in the 2019-2020 school year. Mahoney graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2010, where she studied painting and sculpture. Her work takes elements that are sacred to people, including things that are precious to them, and portrays their enormous importance using techniques commonly seen in religion or pop culture. Mahoney is the owner of AM Design & Fabrication LLC, where she creates and restores complex and innovative fabrications and forgings out of steel, aluminum, and red metals.


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Alaina Mahoney's work on display in CH-CH's Mankiw Gallery


Although she has many years of experience in steel construction, her artistic background allows her to investigate techniques beyond those that are used in traditional fabrication. She enjoys working with clients who want to create something truly unique, and she encourages interesting design work. We are very excited to work with her as she designs and creates the next addition to the School’s Canvas.


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Alaina Mahoney's work

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Alaina Mahoney's work

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Alaina Mahoney's work 


The Campus as Canvas program echoes what the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum achieve by expanding the physical campus to not just include buildings and outdoor learning spaces, but aims to include sculpture in public spaces for all community members to enjoy. The hope is that it is not limited only to the Barn art building and its surrounding environment, but will be integrated into the campus, much like the arts are integrated into other curriculum during the academic day. To discover sculpture as you walk around the School’s complex 42-acre campus will not only be a treat but an education for our school community and its visitors. The School’s dedication and support of the arts will be physically felt not only by the community but by prospective families and visitors. Permanent sculpture on campus will create memorable landmarks that students and alumni cherish and love and will add to our school’s rich identity.


Alaina Mahoney will also be kicking off her Campus as Canvas 2019 Residency with an Art Show in the titled “The woods, the kitchen, the living room” in the Mankiw Family Gallery on April 25, 2019, from 6-7PM. 


Maeve Doolan is a Visual Arts Teacher and Gallery Director at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School in Waltham MA. Learn more about the expansion of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. 

Topics: Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall, Building Creativity, Embracing Diversity

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