One common thread you’ll find across Rowland Hall classrooms this year is students’ dedication to protecting the Great Salt Lake—and to educating and inspiring others to do the same.
On February 10 and 11, middle and upper school students took this work to a new level when they used Submerge, this year’s winter dance concert, as a springboard to more widely educate the Rowland Hall and larger Salt Lake communities about the lake through art.
I hope audience members not only learned something new and were spurred to make change, but felt as though this problem isn't some looming, overwhelming thing, but something that can be tackled. I also hope they took away how art can bring many people together, create change, and shape the world for the better.—Mackenzie White, class of 2025
“The arts have the important job of identifying the issues of the day and reflecting, expressing, and interrogating those issues in order to build on-ramps to community development,” explained Sofia Gorder, arts chair of dance education. To further ensure that attendees had the information they needed to get involved, the dancers collaborated with five local organizations—Brolly Arts, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, Great Salt Lake Collaborative, Save Our Great Salt Lake, and The Nature Conservancy—who generously agreed to set up tables for concert-goers interested in learning more, and to help promote the event. (Thanks to the collective efforts of all involved—including an essay by senior Anna Hull and a spot on FOX 13—Submerge became the school’s best-attended dance concert ever.)
But the event went even further when it came to inspiring attendees through the arts. Audience members were also treated to two Great Salt Lake–inspired student visual art installations, displayed outside the Larimer Center for the Performing Arts: one of three-dimensional paper tiles, the other of ceramics. It was a way to deepen the learning, but also, the students hoped, to inspire people to leave motivated to help contribute to solutions that benefit us all.
“I hope audience members not only learned something new and were spurred to make change, but felt as though this problem isn't some looming, overwhelming thing, but something that can be tackled,” said tenth grader Mackenzie White, who choreographed the Submerge dance “Ritual Solitude” with junior Lilly Swindle, as well as contributed artwork to both displays. “I also hope they took away how art can bring many people together, create change, and shape the world for the better.”
We invite you to enjoy galleries of the dance concert and student artwork below.
Submerge Dance Concert
“It is a rare event that has the capacity to unite teens, kids, parents, divisions, multiple subject matters, and faculty to explore, discuss, invent, research, learn, and affirm each other's ideas toward solving a shared collective problem all in one night,” said Sofia. “I think these dances did just that.”
Great Salt Lake–Inspired Paper Tiles
A collection of paper tile reliefs, created by ninth- through twelfth-grade students enrolled in the intro to studio art class, lined the hallway leading to the Larimer Center.
“Students researched imagery of the Great Salt Lake, its flora and fauna, and came up with a visual language to represent the essential nature of their chosen subject,” said art teacher Rob Mellor. “We discussed not just the visible qualities, but sensory ones as well. How does one represent sound, or the feel of wind or salt on the skin?” Rob wanted students to think in modernist and reductive terms, and to work within a limited palette of colors that reflect those of Great Salt Lake’s biome.
Ninth-grade English teacher and poet Joel Long also contributed to the project by supplying short phrases from his own writings, which students digested as they brainstormed pieces.
Great Salt Lake–Inspired Ceramics
Concert attendees enjoyed a collection of middle and upper school students’ ceramic birds, as well as representations of microbialites (rock-like underwater structures made of microbes), in the east hallway display outside the Larimer Center. Some birds were sculpted individually, while others were part of totems (created by first trimester classes) or fountains (created by second trimester classes). Alongside their work, students posted facts about Great Salt Lake, further educating viewers.
“The kids were really excited to use their art as a way to speak out in support of the Great Salt Lake and to teach others about it,” said ceramics teacher Molly Lewis.