There’s Something Fishy Going On

Fish Art Fundraiser Supports Innisfree-Sponsored Dixon School of the Arts

If you walk into the gift shop at the Hilton Pensacola Beach, you might notice something fishy. The colorful fish that hang happily on hooks at our beachfront hotel have a story to tell. They were created by 5th through 7th graders at Dixon School of the Arts, the same school their sale will support.

Lisa Puzon and Shaughnessy Johnson serve as Dixon’s annual artists in residence, sponsored by Innisfree Hotels to travel from Atlanta to share their talents. Early in 2015, the duo taught a class using local clay as a medium and means to celebrate the history and habitats of Florida – a theme the school adopted for the year. The masks and fish students created out of clay were displayed at Dixon’s Gallery Night, which Innisfree founder and CEO Julian MacQueen and his wife, Kim, attended.

The fish, in particular, caught the MacQueen’s collective eyes. With an eye for art and a heart for charity, they commissioned a school of clay fish for the Hilton as a fundraiser for Dixon – the school Innisfree Hotels has supported since the time of its original charter.

“The students are aware that the proceeds will support the Visual Arts program in their school,” Puzon said. “This is an excellent way to show the students how to apply the arts in real life.”

Each bold and beautiful fish is named for his or her creator. Angela is a student with a delicate style, but confidence in her craft and colors. Dasya is quiet, yet eager to explore and experiment, which shows in the wide fins her fish possesses. Toni has a simple but sophisticated style, combining plain shapes with complex textures. A meticulous painter, Zuria loves bold design and bright colors. Martavion uses textures and shapes to create a design that is not only visually pleasing, but also makes you want to touch it.

Guided by Puzon and Johnson, and with help from talented student assistants Kalani and Jaylyn, the team of five recreated their designs to be casted and marketed in the Hilton’s gift shop. Funds raised from their purchase will support Dixon’s Visual Arts program to broaden learning and experience, encompassing visits to museums and other art events and venues, scholarships for special art classes outside the school, art materials and more.

You only need to visit for a day to see that all the teachers and staff take pride in their school and are committed to creating a safe and loving environment that is open to learning and flourishing,” Johnson says of Dixon School of the Arts.

The artists in residence hope this fundraiser is only the beginning of support and sponsorship opportunities that will allow Dixon to display its blossoming talents. For Innisfree’s part, the Hilton Pensacola Beach gift shop will provide an ongoing venue to display and sell student artwork.

That’s one special ‘Catch of the Day.’