When most people think of art, they don’t normally mix it together with math and science, but for Freedom High School senior Alisa Cruz-Mendez, it was the perfect challenge. Mendez is an intern for The Old School Studio (TOSS) in Morganton, which is directed by Kathryn Ervin. Ervin is invited to create an interactive piece of artwork for the festival every year, but this year the two switched things up.
“As an intern at TOSS and as a STEAM advocate, Kathryn thought it would be a great opportunity for me to create an installation that would allow me to display my knowledge of science and math while allowing me to explore art,” Cruz-Mendez said.
The project is titled “The Fabric of Life” and consists of a large installation of yarn and textile fibers that will create an opportunity for students to walk through a landscape of art guided by a map. The map will lead them to create the landscape of Florence County, South Carolina, with yarn, fabric and other textile materials. Each thread in the landscape is representative of each community member in Florence — each contributing in a unique way to community unity and prosperity.
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“It seems like a paradox for me to be working at an art studio and creating a large art piece,” Cruz-Mendez said. “I never had access to an arts education growing up since my parents did not see the value in it. Naturally, I never took it upon myself to take an art class in middle or high school. Yet even with my lack of an education in the arts, I was still able to create something beautiful.”
She plans on attending a college in the fall and majoring in either interdisciplinary studies, medical/evolutionary anthropology, or public policy.
“Alisa has demonstrated a powerful way to showcase her talent and help others to be positively impacted at the same time,” Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Mike Swan said. “We are very proud of her efforts and know her future, as well as so many other BCPS students, will be very bright.”