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Students create collaborative art with local sculptor

Smithville Christian High School students help create “Flourish.”

Smithville Christian High School's “Flourish”

Last fall, Smithville Christian High School in Smithville, Ontario, celebrated its new addition with a commissioned sculpture by a local artist, and every student at the school had a hand in its creation. The school partnered with local artist Floyd Elzinga to create a sculpture to grace the school’s new two-story atrium.

Elzinga has a reputation for bold, eye-catching work and his themes match the ideas the school wanted to express, according to Ted Harris, the school’s principal. Elzinga was also experienced in collaborative projects.

Elzinga and a team of workers from his studio spent a day at the school, working with every student to create an individualized addition to the sculpture. Students embellished their leaves with pictures, words, and designs. They took Elzinga’s advice to heart and made their contributions unique.

The steel tree – called Flourish –towers over the two-story atrium, its branches weaving through the structure’s steel beams. The atrium will be used to display student work, but the school’s board of directors also wanted to commission a signature piece.

“We wanted a piece of art that indicates the character of our school, and one of the things we hope to accomplish with our students is flourishing,” Harris said. “We want to be a place where kids flourish, and Floyd’s work, which is beautiful and big in scale, aesthetically speaks to the concept of flourishing.”

Elzinga said he chose a tree as a basis for the design because trees are a symbol of growth “and a school is the perfect place to be thinking about growth.” Trees are also shaped by the environment in which they grow, Elzinga said, and Flourish is “shaped by the community. It shows the character of Smithville Christian.”

The $1.3 million addition/renovation was made possible by the school’s recent fundraising campaign, which also included a significant contribution to the bursary fund.

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