NORTH BENNINGTON -- The Hiland Hall Garden in North Bennington was the recipient of two new totem poles this year, complete with a model of the Mosley Bridge connecting them.

The pieces for each totem pole, decorated with depictions of birds, trees, flowers, snakes, and all manner of other natural images, were created by soon-to-be-fifth graders from the Village School of North Bennington with the help of Matthew Perry of the Vermont Arts Exchange.

Students from last year's fourth grade class retrieved their totem pole segments, with the help of Perry, before the new ones were put up. One of the older students was surprised to find a bird's nest inside her sculpture.

North Bennington Prudential Committee member Ray Mullineaux created a wooden base for each of the students, so that they could display them in their houses. "These are so nice I want to take one, stain it, and use it in my home!" joked Perry.

This is the third year that Perry has worked with the Village School on the totem poles, which are sculpted out of foam insulation before being coated with cement paste. "I find that its easy to work with all kinds of people on these," said Perry, "It's a very accessible medium."

Perry, who does three or four projects with the Village School every year, recently completed a project in which sixth grade students created life-size models of birds using the same process.


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Those birds will be displayed somewhere in the village over the summer.

Perry will also be at Gamer's Grotto on Main Street in Bennington today, Wednesday, June 11, working with students from The Bennington School who have created video-game themed art to decorate the walls of the store. The installation will be at noon, and the public display will begin at 3 p.m.

Perry thanked the Hiland Hall Garden for the use of its space, and spoke to how nice the totem pole project was for the children, "They can come up here, show their parents what they've created. It's really great."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB