By Jessie Forand/ECHO Editor’s note:  This is the third in a series discussing public art at ECHO. This summer visitors along the Burling...

Science Loves Art: Burlington High School Year End Study

By Jessie Forand/ECHO

Editor’s note:  This is the third in a series discussing public art at ECHO. This summer visitors along the Burlington Waterfront will witness art in action, with engaging pieces created by artists, sculptors, and students all with a strong point of view.

Photo Gallery by Photos: Jessie Forand and Chris Whitaker/ECHO 

About a dozen students from Burlington High School spent the last two weeks of the academic year at ECHO. The Year End Study program brings young minds off their campus and into the community, working with a wide range of experts to learn something new and, in this case, make something incredible.

The students were interested in ECHO after hearing that the offerings would be outside, that the subject matter would combine science and art for full day courses.

During their time with ECHO STEM Education Coordinator Chris Whitaker, the students imagined, developed, and created two engaging public art pieces, focusing on issues currently plaguing Lake Champlain – invasive species being the hot topic on their minds.

The students said they learned about the concept of “not in my backyard,” where people are less likely to take action unless something affects them directly, and based on that they chose to showcase with their public art pieces how the problems in Lake Champlain affect everyone in the region.

“This is our water source, it’s what we’re going to swim in,” said senior Eva Paradiso.

They also learned that while some invasive species pose only a nuisance, others are downright harmful.

They decided to use their work to make a lasting impact, they explained.

Part of the challenge was how to convey a message to a diverse audience, which took careful planning but was a lot of fun, said student Ena Ibrisimovic.

The two final pieces are as impactful as they’d hoped – one features three figures, each progressively more covered in harmful invasives and the other a sliding viewer to showcase a few of the species themselves.

As the two weeks went on, the projects evolved a great deal.

“It was nice to see the progress we’ve made,” said Kaysi Herrera‐Pujols, who explained the students began with the concept of a tree and ended up with something completely different.

Plus, she said, “I like painting and drilling things.”  

In addition to their time with Whitaker, students worked with Generator to use the creative space and its innovative tools to construct their art pieces. They even ventured onto the lake with the University of Vermont Rubenstein Lab, in the research vessel the Melosira.

An in-progress public art piece by students from Burlington High School (Photo: Jessie Forand/ECHO)
See the students’ artwork at ECHO’s terrace and in Hoehl Park, but free spaces open to the public.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services MA-20-15-380.

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