“Look Up” — Community, Defined and Designed

By Julie Fisher, Director of STEAM Education

Last week, a bright spectrum of colorful clothing brought unity to a crowd of unfamiliar faces that coalesced at an experiential art event conceptualized by artist Elizabeth Turk. “Look Up” was designed to bring together different generations of community members and honor their connectedness to one another and their environments. The focal point was a series of vibrant umbrellas designed by the artist and adorned with resilient plant species including the ginko, poppy, and echinacea, along with fireweed and lodgepole pine.
Turk first engaged with Foxcroft two years ago when she gave an artist talk and invited our entire community to her “Ridgeline” event at the estate of Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon, Class of 1929. The Blue Ridge Mountain skyline was the backdrop for this illuminated umbrella display, held in partnership with the Oak Spring Garden Foundation and the Piedmont Environmental Council. Those designs featured Virginia native endangered plant species including the venus fly trap, bittercress, bloodroot, eastern prairie orchid, and dogwood.

At the time, Foxcroft’s photography and biology students were "Playing with Light and Flora" at Oak Spring’s Biocultural Conservation Farm. That interdisciplinary collaboration has continued to this day, culminating with another joint venture with the artist and her team at ET Projects. This time the backdrop was the Llewellyn Village Garden, part of a low-income residential complex in Middleburg developed and supported by the Windy Hill Foundation. 

Over the past several months, the team at Oak Spring has engaged Windy Hill residents with gardening activities, while Foxcroft's EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) team has been hard at work designing, fabricating, and installing a new gate. The garden was affectionately named "Rene's Roots" in honor of Windy Hill's founder, Irene "Rene" Llewellyn. Our students used this inspiration to laser cut and hand paint a custom sign for the gate, which was featured during the garden dedication in the lineup of “Look Up” events.

Turk charged other Foxcroft faculty and students with roles including a team of dancers to inspire movement and play with the umbrellas and a group of photographers and videographers to capture creative imagery both on the ground and from above with drones. Several artists offered face painting and designed a chalk mural to bring even more color and joy to the experience, while the rest of our volunteers helped distribute umbrellas, play games, and plant in the garden with residents young and old.

“I love creativity and art combined with a mission. This was a beautiful opportunity to help support and uplift our local community," shared Dr. Meghen Tuttle, STEM faculty. Poppy M. ’27 also enjoyed the experience, “It was very environmental, colorful, and floral, and overall a great experience to be a part of. It was very entertaining, interactive, and fun.” 

View video highlights and kaleidoscoping drone imagery compiled by ET Projects.

This experiential art reminded us that people who are embraced by their communities, who work in unison with them, and who lift each other up can endure even the most difficult times. Elizabeth Turk’s act of engineering design, environmental science, as well as performance and visual art is the truest embodiment of STEAM as one could ever define it. The sense of community engagement she fostered was palpable, and everyone left feeling simultaneously uplifted and grounded.
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.