Exhibit Puts Viewer In The Spotlight

By Arielle Dollinger

adollinger@longislandergroup.com

 

Sophomore Maryanne Mahoney, a photo student, assisted in preparation and installation in Hills East’s AP Art History installation, “Mirror Mirror.” (Photo by Allyson Uttendorfer)

Sophomore Maryanne Mahoney, a photo student, assisted in preparation and installation in Hills East’s AP Art History installation, “Mirror Mirror.” (Photo by Allyson Uttendorfer)

On Friday, Students and faculty walking the halls of Half Hollow Hills High School East noticed a new hallway component: mirrors.

There are mirrored cubes and mirrored rectangles hanging alongside empty frames on school windows. Passersby have no choice but to notice themselves.

The show, called “Mirror Mirror,” installed on Jan. 9, gets its name and concept from the classic line in Snow White, teacher Allyson Uttendorfer, teacher of the AP Art History class presenting the exhibition, said.

“The wicked witch was vain and was only interested with what people saw of her on the outside,” she said. “The project hopes to bring to attention how important it is to be confident and proud of who you are, because we are more than what we look like on the outside.”

The AP Art History class at High School East installed “Mirror Mirror” on Jan. 9.

The AP Art History class at High School East installed “Mirror Mirror” on Jan. 9.

While it took one day to install the project, the process leading up to that day began in November, Uttendorfer said.

Each of the 17 students in the class was asked to come in with a theme that would impact high school-aged students, and the class would then agree on one. Once a theme was chosen, the class would write and present a proposal to building and central office administrators.

One of the students brought up the Dove Real Beauty campaign and the class watched the five-minute video, which illustrates the way that self-perception often differs from reality. After watching the video, Uttendorfer said, the class agreed that it was something that deserved a response.

Senior Meagan Leotta, a current AP Art History student and secretary of National Art Honor Society, said that the installation helped her to gain self-confidence.

“While putting the mirror together I was forced to look at myself a lot of the time and it helped to remind myself about my self-worth,” she said. “I hope that my peers see the installation in the same light. That by passing by the installation and seeing their reflections, they see their true beauty.”

Supplies for the project cost about $400, Uttendorfer said. Over the course of about two weeks in and out of class, students made the mirrors out of foam board and mirror foil, an attempt to build mirrors of material that was not fragile and would avoid safety hazards, according to Uttendorfer.

“The mirrors are a little imperfect, but I think that actually adds to the concept,” Uttendorfer said, noting that perception is often distorted even when one is looking into a mirror.

Mirrors are made of foam board and mirror foil to avoid safety hazards, Allyson Uttendorfer said. (Photo by Allyson Uttendorfer)

Mirrors are made of foam board and mirror foil to avoid safety hazards, Allyson Uttendorfer said. (Photo by Allyson Uttendorfer)

The annual AP Art History installations “help to raise awareness of art throughout the school,” Uttendorfer said. Students who took Art History the previous year sometimes come back to help with the installations, and Uttendorfer invites students in any of her classes or in the school’s art and service-related clubs to get involved.

“They go through the entire process of what a real artist… would have to go through [to do a public installation or work of art],” Uttendorfer said.

In the nine years that Uttendorfer’s classes have been creating annual installations, feedback from students and faculty has not always been positive.

“Sometimes people criticized what people contributed… some years, people just said they didn’t like the installation,” she said. “So far this year, it’s been… pretty positive.”

Uttendorfer does not worry about negative feedback, however; art is subjective.

“I teach my students that that’s part of this project,” she said. “Not everybody’s going to give us accolades, but we’re making it for us because we wanted to put this message out there.”