Last week, an art installation appeared on Ranney Court—a colorful, geometric quilt of wooden hexagons wired together in a complex pattern. This Lower School art project, led by Art Teacher Val Trimarchi (“Ms. T”) in collaboration with STEAMWork Design Studio Coordinator Mick Lorusso and Lower & Middle School Learning Support Specialist Susie Murdock, contains more than meets the eye. It’s a tribute, said Ms. T, to this year’s theme announced at Convocation of “interdependence,” and it mirrored a project happening simultaneously at Marymount High School initiated by Ms. T’s sister Julie Whittell!
In the opening weeks of school, Westridge 4-6th graders discussed what “interdependence” meant to them, sharing their thoughts on why it is important to care for and support one another. Meanwhile, in the STEAMWork Design Studio, Lorusso laser-cut 130+ hexagons out of upcycled wood scraps, and those hexagons were distributed to Lower Schoolers to use to create their own personal art pieces. In class, students laid out their completed hexagon art pieces to create various shapes and patterns, and the pieces were later wired together by Ms. T, Murdock, and Lorusso and hung on a large bulletin board on Ranney Court.
“The Hexagon Project is actually a global movement focused on how art can promote social justice and transform individuals and societies,” said Ms. T. “I wanted to do our own take on the project with the students, and it was a great way to introduce them to the idea of interdependence and emphasize how we all individually make up part of a whole. It just so happened that my sister Julie was looking for a project to do at Marymount for their opening days, and when I told her about it, she wanted to help bring a similar version to life at Marymount.”
Whittell, dean of academics and math teacher at Marymount, shared the sentiment. “This was a spur-of-the-moment collaboration between sisters. We share lots of project ideas and keep each other connected to that art-math world,” she said. “For our school’s version of the hexagon project, I laser-cut 300 wood hexagons and our students drew words on them that described what they felt they brought to their community—words like love, friendship, support, kindness, compassion, positivity, gratitude, and more.”
Whittell worked in collaboration with Marymount’s Religious Studies Department Chair and Director of Mission & Identity Theresa Thibideaux, who led the activity during their all-school retreat.
Lorusso noted that the hexagon shape can represent many different ideas. “Some students pointed out that the hexagons form a honeycomb pattern that looks like a beehive, where the bees work together to build their home. Hexagons are also a reference to interdisciplinary thinking, bringing different disciplines together to create something strong (hexagons are geometrically a very strong shape).”
The twin art installations across two girls’ school campuses—connecting two sisters working across different disciplines—serve as a reminder of the importance of interdependence, collaboration, and community. The Marymount installation will be blessed during their upcoming Mass before being placed on display, and the Westridge installation will later be moved to the STEAMWork Design Studio where it will live for the rest of the year.
View more photos of the Westridge project by clicking here.