Southern Door Students Plan Permanent Sculptures

An artist-in-residence is assisting with the student teams’ sculptures

Just before winter break, Southern Door students began planning for two major art installations.

Thanks to funds raised throughout 14 Halloween seasons at the “haunted mansion” at the former Quietwoods South Campground, the school district has extra support for the visual arts this year – plus the finances to help students create permanent sculpture displays on the campus.

Also for the first time since 2011, Southern Door has an artist-in-residence: Rob Soukup, who designed the new ship sculpture and “Confluence” fountain in Graham Park near Sturgeon Bay’s Oregon Street bridge. His public art also included a sliced-cherry/geode that sold for more than $5,000 at auction after the citywide Cherries Jubilee art celebration in September.

Art instructor Barb Schriner-Schmitt said that she and Soukup have discussed having middle school students design, contribute pieces to, and help create a sculpture this spring that will be installed inside the entrance to the auditorium. Soukup has suggested hanging the art as a mobile, but Schriner-Schmitt said the students will help to make that final determination.

High school students will work on a sculpture to fasten to a base that already exists: a raised, circular focal point outside the auditorium. The high school project will likely involve COR-TEN steel, she said of a metal that “gains an attractive patina to protect itself as it ages.”

Students throughout the school are learning about sculpture and how to formulate artistic ideas, Schriner-Schmitt said. Middle school art teacher Jared Nellis is planning a sculpture project out of natural materials to become part of the “school woods” outdoor classroom, and instruction at the grade-school level will result in various sculpture projects that might appear in temporary displays in classrooms or hallways.

Middle school students at Southern Door are planning a permanent art piece for the auditorium’s lobby. Submitted.

“There are all kinds of possibilities,” Schriner-Schmitt said. “We are thrilled to bring this unique creative learning, and participatory residence sculpture, and opportunity with Rob Soukup to Southern Door this school year.”

Initially, 14 high school students participated in preliminary planning for the high school art sculpture, but more are welcome. Schriner-Schmitt said she doesn’t know how many of those students will help with final construction, but she’s also recruiting help from the technical and industrial-arts departments.

“We have invited any kids who want to be a part of it to let us know,” she said.

Community members may help, too, “in many capacities, from elementary level to the interior or exterior sculptures,” Schriner-Schmitt said. Volunteers could provide mentoring, leadership and possible instruction on using general sculptural materials. Community members or vocational-technical students or educators could provide welding or observation during welding, and volunteers might help with cutting out pieces or running a CNC machine or jigsaw.

Anyone who’s interested in helping (and passing a background check) may email [email protected].

The last time the district had resident artists, Jeanne and David Aurelius of Northern Door helped students, staff and community volunteers with a clay-tile mural titled “Opening the Door and Soaring to New Destinations.”

Schriner-Schmitt said she does not know whether this year’s two main sculpture projects will call for more donations from the public. She said she’s mainly grateful for the 14 years of all-volunteer-contributed construction and artistic efforts on the haunted mansion by former elementary principal Cory Vandertie, former elementary art teacher Judy Jesse, community member Sue Marchant and many other community members – including Soukup, a Southern Door alumnus.