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Sculpture trail at Farmington’s Hill-Stead Museum gives real-world experience to recent Hartford Art School graduates


Posted 06/03/2016
Posted by Mary Ingarra


Audrey Musinski helps Kevin Hernandez install one of his "Sign Poems."

Audrey Musinski helps Kevin Hernandez install one of his "Sign Poems."

"Sheared Sphere" by Audrey Ryan includes 75 pounds of fleece.

"Sheared Sphere" by Audrey Ryan includes 75 pounds of fleece.

Matt Dondero's "Note" features a weatherproof clock behind a granite stone.

Matt Dondero's "Note" features a weatherproof clock behind a granite stone.

"Grass Patch" by KC Chester is an area of sod where visitors can rest or play.

"Grass Patch" by KC Chester is an area of sod where visitors can rest or play.

When you walk the grounds of the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Conn. this summer, which is known for its beautiful gardens, walking trails, and annual poetry festival, you may think your eyes are deceiving you. Is that a chess set floating in a pond? A giant sphere of sheep’s wool in a field? A relief sculpture of a fiberglass cow? And a wood-carved statue of a borer beetle? Yes, and that’s just four of seven art pieces created by 2016 Hartford Art School (HAS) graduates and on display at the Museum through October. 

After HAS, Inc. board member Jane Herzig and her friends Jim and Lois Coon and Neil and Judy Cowan gave the art school a $5,000 grant for a special project, faculty members Sam Ekwurtzel and Hiro Fukawa worked with the sculpture majors to help them take advantage of this rare opportunity to showcase student art work publically. The project helped the seniors to enhance their portfolios and utilize the skills they had been taught on how to successfully create their own public art exhibition. 

Alexis Musinski, a sculpture and ceramics double major from Colchester, Conn., says one of her courses focused on creating multiple proposals and taught her how to identify the necessary tools, materials, and budget for an exhibition.  “It was very professional and now I know what I need to do if I ever want to apply for a grant,” says Alexis, who sculpted “Theodate’s Cow” for the exhibition. “It was actually really helpful, as far as what could potentially happen after graduation,” she said.

Kevin Hernandez, of Hartford, Conn., who created four “Sign Poems” along the sculpture trail, agrees. “We had to come up with a way to present our idea so that it was very clear.” Kevin says those who review proposals not only want to know details about the art piece, but also how it will benefit the museum or gallery.

“This project gave me a lot of skills I can use,” says Taylor Schaffer of Prospect, Conn., who will attend graduate school to pursue a degree in secondary art education. “It’s something that’s different than what other art teachers teach their students.” Taylor carved “The Wooden Emerald Ash Borer,” a beetle statue out of ash wood that sits at the entrance to one of the walking trails.  

The other sculptures on display are:

  • “Stalemate,” a 32-piece chess set that floats on a pond, by Dylan Ahern of Nesconset, N.Y.;
  • Note,” a weatherproof clock installed behind a granite stone by Matt Dondero of Vernon, Conn.;
  • “Sheared Sphere,” 75 pounds of fleece installed on a spherical framed structure by Audrey Ryan of Fairfield, Conn.; and
  • “Grass Patch,” an area of sod where Museum visitors can rest or play by KC Chester of Wallingford, Conn. 

To learn more about the sculpture trail and exhibit hours, visit the Hill-Stead Museum website

Audrey Musinski helps Kevin Hernandez install one of his "Sign Poems."

Audrey Musinski helps Kevin Hernandez install one of his "Sign Poems."

"Sheared Sphere" by Audrey Ryan includes 75 pounds of fleece.

"Sheared Sphere" by Audrey Ryan includes 75 pounds of fleece.

Matt Dondero's "Note" features a weatherproof clock behind a granite stone.

Matt Dondero's "Note" features a weatherproof clock behind a granite stone.

"Grass Patch" by KC Chester is an area of sod where visitors can rest or play.

"Grass Patch" by KC Chester is an area of sod where visitors can rest or play.