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Peter Krasznekewicz Brings Modern Art and Dickinson to Campus

Little, white wooden houses have sprung up around campus with quotations from the works of poet Emily Dickinson written on all sides. This massive modern art installation was brought to Deerfield by junior Peter Krasznekewicz.

“The idea was to have an interactive art project that is incorporated into the community. I want people to look at the words and think about them. What do they mean? I want to start discussions,” explained Krasznekewicz.

Inspired by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who designed the Central Park Gates in New York City in 2005, Krasznekewicz also found creative stimulation in his family.

“My sister has always been a huge Emily Dickinson fan, and she had this cardboard house when she was little. She named it ‘Emily.’ My Dad and I came up with the idea, but it was all thanks to her,” he elaborated.

Bringing everything together to make the exhibit and get it going was not an easy or quick process at all.

“I really started working on it during my sophomore year,” Krasznekewicz said. “I had to prepare a proposal and present it to the senior staff to get permission. I also had to contact the Emily Dickinson museum and get permission to use her quotes. They were actually really helpful in picking them out.”

Krasznekewicz was not alone. “I had a lot of help from art teacher Tim Trelease and my family,” noted Krasznekewicz. “Also, we got a lot of volunteers from town to help us build them. It took over three hundred pieces of plywood to build all the houses. I’m so thankful to everyone who helped.”

The exhibit has not received a wholly positive response. Some students commented negatively on the art. A group of senior boys even moved two of the houses off the “senior grass” in front of the Main School Building. “I knew I wouldn’t get a hundred-percent approval on them, but I wanted and expected that. I want to start discussions and disagreements. That was the whole point,” Krasznekewicz said.

In addition to sparking discussion, the installation is also contributing to the world off campus. Once the exhibit is finished, the houses will be broken down, and the 100% recycled plywood will be donated to Habitat for Humanity, which use the materials to make real houses for those in need.

“I really wanted this to be an eco-friendly art project,” said Krasznekewicz. “Everything is going right back into the community. Once it’s done, there will be absolutely no waste from the project.”

The houses will remain on campus until November 4, when they will be moved to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. From there, the houses will be transported to the Boston Children’s Hospital, before being broken down and donated to Habitat for Humanity.

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