The accomplished history of Carroll’s renaissance club


New sculpture that was hung above a staircase.

The halls of Carroll are decorated with many pieces of fantastic art that many people take for granted. Whether it be through paintings, pictures, sculptures, or any other art form it makes the halls of Carroll a more interesting and lively place. 

One group that makes a large amount of art for the school is the renaissance club. A group of students led by Scott Kilmer, an art teacher at Carroll, has made many different pieces of art for the school in many different art forms over the past 10 years, including the recently added sculpture.

“It started about 2011 and 2012, and someone had suggested we have an art club.” said Kilmer. “I said to the students, ‘What about if we did a group project for the building to help make Carroll high school more interesting as you walk the halls.’”

And they did just that as they started their first big project for the school being the large tree sculpture that hangs over the grand staircase. However, despite it being a big success it came with many issues.

Tree sculpture that is hung above the grand staircase. made in 2012.

“I realized when we were halfway through it that I had bitten off more than I really wanted to chew,” said Kilmer. “It couldn’t be hung as one piece, so it became a three-dimensional puzzle where we had to put them up one piece at a time and make sure all the holes in the wall were drilled according to where they were in the boards.“

In the end, this piece ended out great and is seen and enjoyed by hundreds of students each day. It symbolizes the circle of life and figuring out who you are as a person. Another interesting aspect of this piece is that it is not made of metal, and is instead cleverly disguised as such.

“It’s basically wood and wood filler that we texturized, pressed into it and carved into it and then painted it to get different finishes. The one on the grand staircase was specifically designed to look like metal,” said Kilmer.

After the completion of the first project, the club decided to tackle another big project in 2014. This project was to be hung in the CFC in front of the CFC office. It is a bas relief type sculpture, meaning that it is made to be hung on the wall, and resembles 4 clocks. One clock is on 9, one is on 10, one is on 11, and finally one is on 12.

Clock sculpture hung in front of CFC office made in 2016.

“The phrase seeing the light in the tunnel, that kind of drove a little bit of the imagery,” said Kilmer.  “So if you look at the freshman year, the tunnel opening is very small and it’s very far away. And the sophomore year is a little closer. By the time you get to senior [year], it’s very large, and it’s close.”

Beyond this metaphor, the numbers obviously represent the 4 years or grades that take place in high school. The description next to the artwork warns the freshmen that pass it by to make the most of their time in high school and to appreciate it while they can. 

In the following year, they created a piece completely unlike the previous pieces in the  10-12 commons. They did this by painting directly on the wall creating a dystopian-like scene with many perilous paths. One simple question sits above these words: “Life what path will you choose?” Another interesting part of this mural was that it was painted by freshmen.

Mural in the commons made in 2015-2016.

“We met once a week after school for an hour to an hour and a half, and they painted every week for literally months. So there was a very dedicated group to do that and a very talented group,” said Kilmer. “The idea is just like it says on it, what path will you choose in life? So if you follow the paths that are in the mural, you see that some of them are dead ends. Some of them are very complicated paths where you have to go through tunnels and over bridges. Some of them are very perilous paths where you might fall off a cliff.”

After this, in the 2017-2018 school year another wall sculpture was created for the CFC. Unlike the others, this piece was more abstract featuring shapes that slowly deformed into more free-flowing less defined shapes. This comes together to create some symbolism in the piece.

The right half of the sculpture outside the CFC gym.
The left half of the Sculpture in front of the CFC gym.

“When you come into high school, you don’t have a lot of room to be creative to go outside your boundaries. There’s a circle and a square and a triangle that represents that. As you get to your sophomore year, you start to have more opportunities for different electives. You start to morph into the person you eventually become,” said Kilmer. “And so the changing of those shapes represents that. And the way the colors go from red, yellow, and blue and start mixing together represents how we all have an influence on all of those around us.”

All of this symbolism comes together to make a truly beautiful piece that sits in the hallway leading to the CFC, which symbolically is the building’s transition from the CFC to the 10-12. Personally, this piece is my favorite because the symbolism is incredible, not to mention how well the art is made.

One of the most recent things they have made is 3 colorfully painted panels in the front of the CFC commons. This project was taken on in the year 2020 and the process of creating it has been recorded and uploaded to the Carroll High School TV Department Youtube channel.

“That’s called an acrylic pour. And so basically what we did, the kids, the students didn’t really have any idea how to do that. So I told them the concept and then we did probably 20 on a very small scale, maybe 12 inches square. So they learned how to do it on a small scale.” 

After the small scale, they continued this trial and error learning on a larger and larger scale until they were ready for the actual piece. On their way to the big piece, they also had to learn how to mix the materials to work in the desired way.

“You have to know how much, how thin the paint has to be, how watery to get it to move the way you want it to. Then you have to learn the materials that you add to the paint. For example, you put WD 40 into. Which surprises people. Or rubbing alcohol. And it creates what’s known as cells. And that’s how you get all the weird little patterns that happen,” said Kilmer.

With all this practice it’s no wonder that the end process turned out so great. During the making of this process as shown in the aforementioned video that will be linked here. They even had to have people on the sides of the piece lifting this huge thing up in order to get the paint to fall as desired.

painted pallets hung in the CFC commons made in 2020.

“We literally made a two-by-four grid that was 12 feet by 20 feet. All three pieces of plywood were put on top of it,” said Kilmer. “And then we had 20 students all the way around the entire thing, lifting it and tilting it all at once. The process was at least as exciting and interesting as the end product.”

This project was a success and with that, they were ready to move to the next. However, as with many things in 2020 disaster struck as the covid-19 pandemic shut down the club’s 2020-2021 school year as well as the end of the 2020 school year. 

“I guess it was two years ago that we did the big pour. So because of the pandemic, we didn’t do one one year,” said Kilmer.

This leads us to 2021-2022 the current, as of writing this, school year. As many members have left the club in its absence due to graduation many new members have joined, and are having a great time with the club.

“It is very fun. We have a lot of laughs there. We just kind of work together as a team, get it done,” said senior Alyssa Ritter.

Alyssa Ritter working on the new sculpture before it was to be hung.

Beyond this, the team acts as a way to permanently display art in the building which is hard to do otherwise.

“We don’t have a permanent gallery, which a lot of schools have.” Said senior Avah Crane, “So I think this is a cool way to incorporate art that students can look at all the time.”

This new group has led to another project being started. This time it has been another bas relief sculpture that was recently hung over a stairwell on the right side of the grand staircase (when looking up the staircase).

“We wanted it to be a place that a lot of people would see, and we picked that staircase specifically because it’s always a hotspot for people going through the hallways,” said senior McKenzie Elett.

Beyond this many other aspects have gone into the design of this sculpture, so that it could be as well done as possible.

“It’s just abstract shapes. There’s no symbolism to this one,” said Elett. “It’s just a piece of art and hopefully aesthetically pleasing. It does involve a lot of principles of design, like balance and unity and rhythm and movement and color theory and things like that. But there’s no symbolism to it.”

However, although the design process went well there were a few things that they struggled within the making of this piece

“We had one piece that kind of fell apart a few times. We’ve had some color scheme problems, but we finally figured that out, and then we’re having some trouble with the sizing of it.” Said Ritter, “ The toughest part was the size.”

Finally, with 2 weeks left in the school year, the club has recently put up the sculpture so that all students, including the soon-to-be graduating seniors, may see it and enjoy it. This project went well and further continues the club’s mission of making Carroll a more interesting, and beautiful place.

New sculpture that was hung above the right staircase.

Through all the pieces mentioned in this article as well as some others The Renaissance club has had an incredible impact on the halls of Carroll to the point where without it the school would not feel the same to many.

“I feel like it would just be very boring,” said club member Avah Crane. “Like it’s just a lot of white walls.”