FHN’s Art Department Spreads Awareness for Art Classes Through “Missing Monique”


Credit to Abby Keathley

Monique sits in the front lobby. Students can take pictures with her and upload them to social media for the chance to win a prize.

By Abby Keathley

The art department at FHN contains a wide variety of classes, talented students and attentive teachers. Denise Maples has taught art classes at FHN for twenty-four years, and is always thinking of ways to attract people to them. Her most recent venture into bringing awareness to the art department is “Missing Monique.”

Monique is a thirty-year-old mannequin previously owned by retired art teacher Steve Weinhold. In her prime, she was used as a prop for many art projects by students. However, after Weinhold retired, she made a new home in the store room, where she sat for years, unused and unloved. Maples noticed Monique’s old and decrepit state and decided it was time to take her out of retirement and give her purpose again. 

“She had seen better days, graffitied up and banged up, and often scared people a lot,” Maples said. “I kept saying I wanted to dig her out and do something fun with her.”

With the help of the students in AP Studio, Maples was able to come up with the idea of “Missing Monique.” The plan was to put Monique in different areas around the school, and have students interact with her by taking pictures with her and uploading them to Instagram or Twitter. After about a month, they would declare a winner and give them a prize. So, after a little makeover, that is exactly what they did.

“It was just for fun,” Maples said. “Wouldn’t my old colleague just love that Monique has come out thirty years later?”

This isn’t the first time the art department has put something in the school for students to interact with. Last year, they put hopscotch squares in the hallway, purely for the sake of students playing on it. Maples hopes that they will continue to do photo opportunities and other things that students can interact with to help get them interested in taking art classes, which she feels are very valuable, even if someone isn’t necessarily an artist.

“It’s important, not for learning how to draw, but just to be thinking creatively and using that other side of your brain,” Maples said.

Art classes also mean a lot to the students that take them. For many students, they provide an environment for them to relax, away from the stress of intense core classes. Learning new skills and thinking creatively are what make art classes special; experimenting with new materials and methods is exciting, even for those who may not be as artistically inclined. Art classes are useful for everyone, no matter what skill level.

“It allows me to express myself and to do what I love,” AP Studio student Minnie Adams said. “I think if we brought more awareness to it, a lot more people would join for that purpose.”