Rochester Memorial School, with grant assistance from the Rochester Cultural Committee, continues to collaborate on making the elementary school a hub for artwork and art appreciation.
Students, faculty, and staff, since June of 2018, have been able to enjoy a large-scale mural, painted by accomplished muralist and tattoo artist, Todd Woodward. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Woodward, or “Woodz” as he is often referred, was born in New Bedford and began drawing on his parents’ wall when he was six years old. The artist has previously returned to the Southcoast to grace his hometown with works on Acushnet Avenue and Nash Road.
The piece that now stands at Rochester Memorial is a wall of gorgeous poppies. The mural was dedicated to Mrs. Diane Lagasse, the school’s administrative assistant, also known as the “heart of the school” for more than fifteen years; poppies being her favorite flower. Joanne Smith, RMS’s art teacher, had fifteen students, grades K-5, hand-make and paint ceramic poppies representing Mrs. Lagasse’s tenure at the school. The ceramic flowers were placed along a pathway which lead to the mural. Mrs. Lagasse was also given a second set of ceramic poppies to go to her home garden. It was later shared that Mrs. Lagasse’s own son, grew up with and played with Woodward, a fact unknown during all the planning.
Mrs. Smith had the ceramic poppies, based on “Poppies in Artwork” by Geogia O’Keefe and by the several artists who create poppy artwork in honor of Remembrance Day in Europe – as Mrs. Lagasse adores Queen Elizabeth.
Rochester Memorial School is also slated to receive another grant award from the Rochester Cultural Counsel for renowned street artist, TOMBOBNYC to return to the school for a second installation. TOMBOB, also New York-based, whose genius transforms the mundane into whimsical, colorful works of art, graced the elementary school in October of 2018; and turned an electric box into an ostrich. “Students shouldn’t put their heads in the sand” being the message. TOMBOB donated his time and materials to compose the first painting at the school, but RMS is hopeful that a grant from the Cultural Council, in addition to monies raised by the PTO, will bring the artist back for a larger-scale fixture.