Students’ Art Connects Pieces of the Community

Students from Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School and Academy visited 24 Toledo area locations Tuesday as part of an art department project that literally pieced together inspiring places around the community, including the Metroparks.

Their assignment: create a puzzle piece that reflects a place that has inspired them. Throughout the day, the school posted photos on Facebook, following the students’ travels as they presented their puzzle pieces at each location.

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Artist Ashton Caryer, a nature enthusiast and frequent Metroparks visitor, created a puzzle piece that incorporated Wildwood Preserve.

"At the beginning of this project, I was thrilled to be able to paint my Wildwood Preserve Metropark puzzle piece,” Ashton said. “Wildwood is so much more than just a Metropark. It is nature, and in this world, nature connects us all no matter how far apart we are. That's why I incorporated several different things, like the arch from Arches National Park, a pine tree from the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, and finally, to tie it back to us, the boardwalk from Wildwood. So whether we're in our cars that take us where we want to go, the safety of our homes, or in the halls of Cardinal Stritch, once we step outside those doors we are all connected by the nature around us."

Ashton presented his puzzle piece to Trevor Walsh, of the Metroparks Operations staff, who is the father of a Cardinal Stritch second grader and a flag football coach at the school.

Lauren Smith, whose piece of the puzzled depicts Toledo Botanical Garden, visited the Garden with teacher Lauren Hoenie.

"Toledo Botanical Gardens offers a closer interaction with nature,” Lauren said. “It is home to so many plants, flowers and wildlife that liven up our community. The Botanical Garden holds a beautiful atmosphere that allows the public to see the astonishing creations of the world. As we grow by creating art in the classroom, nature performs its own art projects through growth."

Scott Carpenter, Metroparks spokesman and a Cardinal Stritch graduate, thanked the students for including Metroparks in their project.

“We feel that the Metroparks are important pieces of the puzzle that makes up our community, and I’m thrilled that you think so, too,” Carpenter said. “This is very appropriate because nature inspires and informs so much of the art we enjoy, while art inspires an appreciation for nature. We use art every day, in the form of beautiful photographs, to inspire people to experience nature for themselves.”