The latest 5 Columns Project art installation at Stevenson Elementary School could turn out to be a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't exhibition.

The cotton muslin pennants attached to the metal columns at the northwest corner of Oxley Road and First Avenue have been splattered with dye made from local plants, including pokeberries, goldenrod and sumac donated by Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park.

"We don't really know what's going to happen to the dye," said Henrietta Cartwright, a Grandview Heights resident and coordinator of the 5 Columns project.

"The question is how will the fall and winter weather affect the dye," she said. "How resistant will the colors be to the rain, snow and frost? That's what students will be finding out over the next few months. It may be that the colors on some of the pieces will fade completely away."

"We're referring to it as the Invisible Ink Project," Kate Gorman said.

Gorman, a Westerville textile artist and quilt maker, has been working with Stevenson students on the project.

On Sept. 29, Gorman filled balloons with the ink created from the plants.

Students used slingshots made by Boy Scouts from Troop 73 to propel the balloons and splatter the ink onto large strips of muslin.

The students then cut the muslin into pennant-sized pieces and sewed circles and triangles onto the smaller pieces of fabric.

On Nov. 13, Cartwright and Gorman installed the pennants onto the columns.

"We have another piece of fabric with dye on it that we're keeping inside the school building," Gorman said. "It will serve as a piece the students can use to compare to the fabric that's left outside in the weather conditions."

One of the benefits of the project "was just to get kids to do some sewing," she said. "Some of them had already done some sewing in the Kids Club program or at home, but it's not something that many kids do these days."

The muslin was cut into pennant shapes to create "a kind of bunting," Cartwright said.

"We wanted to give it a celebratory feel -- a celebration of autumn and winter," she said. "Every season should be celebrated."

All of the materials used in the project are natural, including the wax applied to the pennants, Cartwright said.

The mission of the 5 Columns Project is to unite the Grandview Heights City School District and the community through art, Cartwright said.

Each installation is meant for the entire community to view and enjoy, she said.

Last spring, for the inaugural 5 Columns Project, students worked with local writer Amy Greenberg on an exhibition.

Students inscribed their hopes and wishes for humanity on pieces of ribbon that adorned bicycle wheels attached to the top of each column.

"The columns' shape and how they are arrayed lend themselves to all kinds of potential art-installation concepts," Cartwright said. "The writer put something on top of it, and Kate is tying something to the poles."

The current installation will be on view through February.

The 5 Columns Project is a nonprofit organization funded through grants, donations and in-kind contributions. Partners include ART WORKS/ National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, the city of Grandview Heights and the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Education Foundation.

For more information or to make a donation, visit 5columns.org.

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