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Kelsey Montague’s Message of Positivity Arrives at Aaron School

  |   45th Street, Art, Elementary School, Lower School, Middle School

Karla Cervantes, Interim Head Art Teacher at 45th Street


Every September, Aaron School students enter the 45th Street building full of new hopes, expectations and ambitions. To kick off the year, every student from Kindergarten through Grade 7 worked on a collaborative art project inspired by the works of American illustrator Kelsey Montague. Known for the phrase “What Lifts You,” Montague aims for her work to be positive and uplifting for her audience. Her interactive street murals encourage the viewer to become part of the art and to reflect on what inspires them. Montague’s distinct style of colorful, large-scale butterfly wings, birds, hearts and flowers can be found throughout the world from New York, Los Angeles and Nashville to Hong Kong, Warsaw and Sydney. Her eye-catching wings invite the viewer to become part of the experience by posing in front of the art and sharing their photo online. One such viewer was pop superstar Taylor Swift who posted her own picture with Montague’s wings at an installation here in New York City, which resulted in the artist becoming an instant internet sensation. Swift loved the wings so much that she even commissioned her own mural for the music video to her song “Me!”


Aaron School students put their own twist on Montague’s street murals by each designing feathers that represent their goals for the new school year. On the back of their feathers, students wrote a word representing a goal, which ranged from “fun” and “happy” to “productive” and “calm.” Then, they turned their feathers over to design the other side with colored markers and pastels to visually depict that word however they wanted to interpret it. For example, one student represented the word “cool” by using blue and purple pastels to create a beautifully shaded abstract image. Another student represented the word “fun” by drawing an incredibly detailed portrait of Bowser from Super Mario Bros! Once completed, the feathers were gathered and compiled into two large wings and displayed on the large bulletin outside the art classroom. Students have enjoyed searching for the feathers they created among the array, as well as admiring other students’ designs that showcase their individual styles.


This stunning installation will be on display for months to come to inspire and remind students of their hopes for the school year, their artistic abilities and the wonderful things that can be created when parts of a whole come together.