Alchemy is the transformation of ordinary metal into gold. Alchemy was also the inspiration behind a large mobile designed and constructed by students from The Care Center that now hangs above the main stairwell at HCC's Kittredge Center.
The mobile, constructed from bamboo and painted aluminum flashing, is 14 feet long, 12 feet high and six feet wide. It suggests both the ocean and a sunrise, with long tendrils hanging down, dark green at the bottom, red-orange in the middle and yellow at the top.
The young women from The Care Center worked under the direction of artist Cassandra Holden, a former HCC student and a 2009 graduate of Smith College. Holden began working on the project two years ago with the help of a Helen Gurley Brown Magic grant. In September, the students began formulating ideas, designing, and visiting museums and listening to lectures on art and inspiration from faculty members at HCC.
"Everyone contributed their ideas and we made a small model that became the large piece you see here," said Holden.
Last weekend, the mobile was installed and on Wednesday, students from The Care Center gathered at HCC with staff and faculty to celebrate. In conjunction with the art project, students from both The Care Center and HCC were invited to contribute poems inspired by the mobile and the theme of alchemy.
"I've changed a lot in the last few years, so I wrote about what alchemy means to me," said HCC student Robyn Sutton-Fernandez, who read her poem, "Alchemy to me . . . "
"Why do we make art?" asked Ezra Parzybok, the poetry teacher at The Care Center. "Transformation."
The idea of transformation, beyond the mobile, is an important theme in the everyday lives of the students at The Care Center, a program for teen mothers who are preparing to take their GED test and go on to college.
"I want to thank all the students who took part in that gift of that wonderful work of art," said HCC President Bill Messner. "It's going to inspire us each and every day as we work and learn. We really appreciate that very much."
Read Rebecca Everett's story about the mobile in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Photos: (Left) The mobile hangs above the main stairwell at the Kittredge Center. (Right) Artist Cassandra Holden, left, and Care Center poetry instructor Ezra Parzybok, right, stand in front of the mobile with Care Center students Joan Zayas and Ixia Maldonado.