Artist Constance Swaniker talks about her work with students at H.H. Garnet Elementary School in Chestertown last month. Her sculpture "Butterfly," seen behind her and the students, was donated to Garnet from the Woike collection.
CHESTERTOWN — Those who come out for the annual garden party at H.H. Garnet Elementary School this Thursday will have an opportunity to see a beautiful and unique butterfly.
The butterfly is actually a large and colorful metal sculpture by artist Constance Swaniker. It was donated to the school from the collection of Eastern Shore residents Peter and Hanna Woike.
Now a permanent installation in front of Garnet, "Butterfly" will be a prominent feature during the Arts in the Garden celebration that starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 11.
"Many parents have commented on how much they like the butterfly sculpture — it looks great in front of the school," said Garnet Principal Brenda Rose.
Last month, Garnet students got to meet Swaniker and learn about her artistic process when the renowned Ghanaian artist paid a visit to the school Friday, April 21.
"It was a great opportunity for our students to be able to meet the artist and ask questions about how she created the sculpture," Rose said. "They were very interested in knowing what materials she used to create the butterfly."
Having been led outside to the school's Good Seeds Garden, where "Butterfly" has been placed, the students were immediately amazed to learn the person standing next to it was its creator.
"How did you make it?" a student was quick to ask.
Swaniker spoke about collecting the pieces comprising the sculpture, which includes bicycle gears in its wings.
She described the process of welding the pieces as "sticking them together with fire" — wowing the students.
"Can you also make stuff out of wood?" a students asked.
Swaniker explained that her prefered medium is metal.
"Other artists work with wood, but I don't," she said.
While it was kindergartners and fourth graders who got to meet Swaniker, Garnet art teacher Aimee Boumiea said she plans to share more about the sculpture and create butterfly-themed artwork with all her classes.
"It was such a fantastic opportunity for students to meet an international artist and explore a little about her culture, as well as her artistic process," Boumiea said. "Constance was very open and did a great job answering their questions, which ultimately led students to reflect on how they can personally experiment with art materials, develop a critical eye and find their own aesthetic."
Boumiea said experiences like this help students "gather a better understanding of their experiences in the world and improve their critical thinking skills."
Swaniker also was joined at the school by members of the Chestertown Public Arts Committee and the town's arts community.
The Chestertown Public Arts Committee has been placing donated sculptures like "Butterfly" from the Woike collection around town.
Another Woike collection sculpture, "Reading Dog" by Jay Lagemann, is just a couple of blocks from Garnet at the Kent County Public Library.
The May 11 Arts in the Garden celebration will feature musical performances by Garnet's chorus and band, and student artwork will be on display.
There will be food trucks and family activities.
H.H. Garnet Elementary School is located at 320 Calvert St., Chestertown.