Student News

The Little White House Project

Day, Jessica – October 12, 2011

In a village known for its historic buildings, about 40 new houses have cropped up over the past few days. Scattered over the Academy’s campus, the small white structures are impossible to miss with their large, stenciled quotes, which some may recognize as lines of poetry by Emily Dickinson. Officially called The Little White House Project—Dwell in Possibility, the installation is the brainchild of Deerfield junior Peter Krasznekewicz, founder of Action Art.

According to Peter, the concept behind Action Art is to create art that “brings together different forces that result in a positive experience for the viewers, the participants, and communities…the interchange of physical art, written words, different spaces, green materials, and diverse communities will produce a unique, constructive impact on society.” Inspired in part by the works of the environmental artist Christo, The Little White House Project, which will be moved to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst (MA) in the spring of 2012, has several goals: to reinvent and complement the landscape of two historical sites; to showcase Emily Dickinson and share her profound view of the world; to demonstrate the use of the green building materials that the houses are made of; and to eventually “up-cycle” the houses as material to be used in the construction of a Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity house. However, the houses’ final destination may be put off for a while, since the Boston Children’s Museum recently expressed an interest in displaying the installation after its Amherst residency.

Months of work went into the project—from mapping out the placement of each house on the Academy’s campus to testing a prototype in Peter’s hometown of Big Sur (CA) in 80 mph winds during a hurricane (the house passed the test with flying colors!). Peter selected the Dickinson quotes with help from Jane Wald, executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum, and Allegra Krasznekewicz, his sister. The components of each house (4’ x 8’ roof panels, four 4’ x 7’ body panels, and 2” x 4” support beams) were cut out and stenciled in nearby Turners Falls, then assembled on the Deerfield campus, where they will remain until early November.

On the Action Art website ( Peter comments: “You may ask the question, ‘Why?’ My answer is quite direct…I want to focus on the positive in the world, I want to remind people of the beauty in art and words, and the joy of giving back to the community in a thoughtful, non-destructive way. My goal for creating Action Art is to get as many people as possible to take a moment and ‘Dwell in Possibility.’”

Peter also offers a special thank you to the many people who helped to make his possibility a reality, including Deerfield Academy fine arts teacher Tim Trelease, Director of Facilities Chuck Williams, and Head of School Margarita Curtis.