Wilson County students turn 2020 tornado-damaged piano into art

Wilson County students transformed a piano from a destroyed house into the March 2020 tornado into an audiovisual marvel.

The small grand piano, revealed at Green Hill High School on Wednesday, symbolizes the advancement of tornado EF-3 that struck Wilson County, killing three people and damaging more than 1,300 residential and commercial buildings, including two schools.

DeAna Duncan, an audiovisual production teacher at Green Hill High School, speaks during a presentation of a new piano at Green Hill High School in Mt.  Juliet, Tennessee, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Students helped transform the piano, which came from a house destroyed in the March 2020 tornado, by adding artwork and an audio-visual system that plays music and shows visual performance as a symbol of survival.

The piano includes a compilation of artwork on its exterior with music and visual performances stored with an iPad connection and electronics.

“Each element has a meaning,” said DeAna Duncan, audiovisual professor at Green Hill High, who coordinated the effort to transform the piano.

The piano belonged to the family of Gillian Mak, a Wilson Central graduate, a former student of Professor Duncan. The Mak family’s house was destroyed by the storm. As long as the piano remained, it was damaged as an instrument in the open air and in the rain.

Mak’s mother, Cerise Vaughn, donated the piano, which Duncan took and turned it into the Wilson County Piano Project.

The piano features art, music and dance with recordings of people in the community and students talking about the themes of hope, healing, helping hands and heroes.

The stories play on the iPad on repeat with the piano, Duncan said.

Customers see a new piano at Green Hill High School in Mt.  Juliet, Tennessee, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Students helped transform the piano, which came from a house destroyed in the March 2020 tornado, by adding artwork and an audio-visual system that plays music and shows visual performance as a symbol of survival.

Between the stories are dance and choir performances and artwork submitted by students performing in a slideshow with some photos of the devastation and recovery efforts in the community.

West Wilson Middle and Stoner Creek Elementary both had buildings destroyed by the tornado, and students participated in the project along with students from Green Hill High.

Students at Stoner Creek Elementary created interior art. Students at Green Hill High School painted a phoenix emerging from debris. Word art on the piano came from students at West Wilson Middle School with messages like “stronger together” and “courageous”.

“I didn’t want this to be a revisit, but how we evolved,” said Sherry Tiner, art professor at West Wilson Middle.

STEM students helped design electronics.

Artwork on a new piano at Green Hill High School in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Wednesday June 2, 2021. Students helped transform the piano, which came from a house destroyed in the March 2020 tornado, by adding artwork art and an audiovisual system that plays music and shows visual performances as a symbol of survival.

“I love this collaboration,” said Kevin Dawson, Principal of Green Hill, highlighting the community’s efforts to rebuild after the tornado that hit many students. “Working on it together just shows. “

About 100 students just in Stoner Creek participated.

“I mostly had fifth graders who came up with all the ideas of the kids and the sun, the rainbow and the trees, so I incorporated all the ideas into the design,” Deanna said. Fiorita, art teacher at Stoner Creek Elementary. “But they were very excited just to be a part of the project.”

The Tennessee Valley Authority and Middle Tennessee Electric provided $ 5,000 to help fund the transformed piano, Duncan said.

The piano was installed in the common area of ​​Green Hill. Hopes are that the piano placement will run in several schools from the 2021-2022 school year, Duncan said. A community event with the piano next spring will also be considered.

Tornado 2020:How Wilson County Tornado Damaged West Wilson Middle Could See Actions in Stoner Creek Safeguard Plan

Contact Andy Humbles at [email protected] or 615-726-5939 and on Twitter @ AndyHumbles.

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