Kites and Community

Visual and Performing Arts Outdoor Sculpture students spent last week making kites and holding a community (physically-distanced) picnic. Faculty member Lisa Gordillo designed this project to connect her students across the distances they’re feeling.

Students learned about a traditional Guatemalan kite – the barrilete, made Guatemalan recipes such as chilaquiles and chirmol, read works by Guatemalan writers such as Rigoberta Menchu and Antonio L. Cota Garcia, and studied paintings by Carlos Merida. The class also learned about U.S.-based artists who create community connections, such as Theaster Gates.

Student Sarah Arnold based her kite design on a mandala, then installed it in a forest. Erin Mauk was interested in Guatemala’s quetzal bird – her kite was inspired by the bird’s mythology and it’s long, flowing tail. Marah Hackman drew inspiration from Michigan’s Northern Lights.

Each student made their own barrilete, and hosted a picnic with the people in their household, then came back together to share what they made, so that everyone felt connected. Together, the students created a patchwork event – with many different things happening in different places, but everyone working together.  

The student gallery is on view until August 28. More works will be added each week.  

Artist Erin Mauk’s barrilete flying high
Sarah Arnold’s kite installed in the woods
Kite by artist Mykaela Cayemberg
A student-family picnic
Michael Stock grills tomatoes to make chirmol
Sarah Arnold’s Guatemalan tostadas


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