Modernity Projects Highlight Advancements of the Modern Era

DSC_1411 During the final week of the 2014 winter trimester, Ross School eleventh graders presented their Modernity Projects to peers, faculty, and the community. The projects are the culmination of their studies of the climax of the Modern Era, in which modernization gained momentum and led to the upheaval of established perceptions and beliefs.

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Throughout the trimester, the students engaged in a series of learning experiences exploring the modern period, including a visit to New York City to see the exhibits “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary” at the Museum of Modern Art and “The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution” at the New York Historical Society. They were then tasked with developing a product that expressed an aspect of modern consciousness.


Working in a medium of their choice, students created films, models of architecture and inventions, fashion designs, recreations of War World I battlefields and weaponry, and examples of modern technology and publications exploring women’s rights, prohibition, Zionism, and Symbolist art and poetry.


“The Modernity Project is an opportunity for students to dig deep into the subject matter, and the significance of the time period really hits home with the hands-on experience,” said Jen Cross, dean of Visual Arts. “It’s a great learning process and one unique to Ross School.”


Presentations included Nicole Betuel’s film about modernist artist Man Ray, Lily Pahud de Mortanges’s performance of a monologue from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Amber Kuo’s dance performance in front of her fluorescent-painted rendition of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” Jacqui Shi’s Surrealist artworks, Anderson Lin’s pointillist painting, fashion inspired by the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis by Brenna Leaver, and a life-size replica of a Ford T-Model by Harrison Rowen and Jeong Ho Ha.


Other highlights included Ava Andrea’s scale model of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House; replicas of the Eiffel Tower by Kris Zhao and Ping Cheng; woodcut prints and paintings inspired by German expressionism by Teague Costello, Evelyn Liang, and Griffin Kim; and a recreation of the Statue of Liberty by Amelie Huerbe. At the conclusion of the presentations, the projects were displayed in the “Modernity Salon” outside the Upper School Café.


Eleventh grader Will Greenberg built a vacuum siphon coffee maker exemplifying Staatliches Bauhaus’s design philosophies of simplicity, standardization, and practicality. “I didn’t think that the presentations would vary all that much, but they definitely did,” Will said. “I learned something different from every one, which was an awesome surprise.”