Farmington Arts Commission documents Harrison art

On a recent muggy Saturday, two members of the Farmington Area Arts Commission walked the eerily empty halls at Harrison High School looking for what students left behind.

Not backpacks or books. Art.

Harrison Art

The 49-year-old high school on West 12 Mile Road closed in June and will soon become The Hawk, a City of Farmington Hills community and cultural arts center.

The commission, established in 1976 with appointees from Farmington and Farmington Hills, volunteered to preserve student art as part of the school’s legacy.

Harrison Art

Lesa Ferencz and Cindy Carleton, with the help of student guides Kaitlyn Ferencz and Kelsi Crutchfield, walked from the first to the third floors, past yellow police line tape left from drills conducted in the empty, 245,000-square-foot building. Many of the photos Ferencz took were in art rooms, but students didn’t limit themselves to that space.

“It’s in every stairwell and every hallway,” Carleton said.

Harrison Art

“We have decades of student artwork here,” Ferencz said, adding that preservation “is exactly the role of the Farmington Area Arts Commission.”

While most of the original art will disappear as the first and second floors of the building are renovated, a collection in the media center will remain until city officials decide what to do with the third floor. The paintings, all close to the ceiling, depict historical figures in unusual pairings – Amelia Earhart with Martin Luther King, Jr., William Shakespeare and John Lennon, Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks.

Harrison Art

Carleton said no decision has been made about how to use the photos, whether they’ll become part of a digital presentation or printed for a physical display.