Students' art project up for bids

June 02, 2005|by ADAM BEHSUDI

HAGERSTOWN - Twenty-three students worked on a decorative chess set in Michael Maginnis' art class at Antietam Academy, but a recent photo of the class in front of the set showed only about a dozen of them.

At the public school system's alternative school, Maginnis' class constantly is cycling through students as they either drop out or go back to their regular schools.

Maginnis said he wanted to give students an incentive to take part in the project.

The chess set is being offered to bidders on eBay. The money made from the online auction will go to the students who worked on the project.


"I wanted to give them the sense of what it would be like being a working artist," Maginnis said. He said he was proud of the work that was produced and hopes to see the budding artists profit from their efforts.

Bidding ends Friday.

The starting bid was $50 and there is a reserve, meaning Maginnis has set a minimum price that will allow the set to be sold.

As of 11:00 p.m. Wednesday, there had been eight bids for the chess set with the high bid at $82. The reserve had not been met. The chess set still had one day and 16 hours as an active item on the Web site.

Maginnis said he probably would not list the chess set again if the reserve, which he would not disclose, is not met.

After he sent word out to everyone in the school system and to the Washington County Arts Council, Maginnis said that about 2,000 people should have received the link to the auction site.

Maginnis, who was wearing paint-splattered pants, a pony tail and goatee, has been teaching at the academy for three years. That's longer, he said, than most principals have served there. It was his first job after college.

As Maginnis talked about the project, Bryan, 15, a student, shuffled into the room. He said he just wanted to make some money by working on the chess set. Gradually, his cool facade melted a bit as he ran his fingers over the curves of the individual pieces.

"This is the only time I've been exposed to art," he said. "This is the class I look forward to coming to every day."

Maginnis looked over and smiled. He said it was his hope to awaken some kind of artistic interest in the students. By attaching a monetary incentive to the chess set, the project sparked the interest of many of the students.

"They have a lot of ability. It's just a matter of channeling it to the right ends," Maginnis said.

Each piece was carved from plaster, a part of the project that many of the students said they liked best. The deep red pieces contrast dramatically with the opposing black ones and some are adorned with gold highlights. The board and the pieces are much larger than they appear on the Web site.

"We had to put glaze on it to make it nice and shiny," said Jonathan, another student.

Jonathan looked toward the set and kissed his fingers as if he had just eaten something tasty.

"Perfect," he said.

Maginnis, the son of Bob Maginnis, editorial page editor for The Herald-Mail, said it gave him a sense of accomplishment to see his students take such an interest in a piece of art.

"You have to get used to rewards through a lot of baby steps," Maginnis said.

The chess set sits on the windowsill waiting for the winning bid, and Maginnis' students wait for the profit that it potentially could earn.

The chess set can be seen online at:

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