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Miss Mira Returns to MHS

The hottest item at MHS this holiday season wasn’t Apple AirPods, Ayelada gift cards, or Disney+ subscriptions. It was something pretty old school, and in this case — old, old school.
Making its debut this year at Arty Party, the annual holiday-timed entrepreneurial and philanthropic effort managed by ninthgraders, was the limited-edition “Mira Pin.” Conceived by Studio Art Teacher Ellie Spangler and designed by Yaya Wang ’20, the pins feature the likeness of MHS founder Mira Hall and were a hit with students and adults alike!

Ms. Spangler thought of the idea this fall while visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, where she saw several pins featuring artists. “I thought, ‘I wonder if we could make one of Mira?’” recalls Ms. Spangler, who enlisted Yaya’s help. “Yaya has an ability that is very special, in that when creating a likeness of someone, she can do it with only a few lines.”

The trick was to capture Miss Mira in just the right way. If there were too much detail, the image would be difficult to replicate on the pin and in the manufacturing process. On the other hand, it also had to look like Mira.

“I was really inspired, so I drew it immediately and sent it to Ms. Spangler,” recalls Yaya. “I think I drew twenty versions. I started by tracing the outline of the portrait in the Living Room, and I tried to use as few lines as possible. She looks really serious in the portrait, but in the end, she came out sort-of smiling.”

Yaya and Ms. Spangler worked on the project throughout October and November, refining Mira’s image, selecting a manufacturer, and choosing just the right colors for the final product. Ultimately, 150 pins were produced and added to the items available through Arty Party.

Launched in 2012 by Ms. Spangler and the MHS Horizons team, Arty Party is a ninth-graded project in which students design and develop products, build business and sales plans, and sell the finished products on campus and in the Berkshires community. Proceeds are donated to nonprofits the students’ choose.

Both Yaya and Ms. Spangler are proud of the final product, which captures the essence of the founder: serious, dignified, and a little playful. “We wanted to honor her, not mock her, or have it be a caricature,” explains Ms. Spangler. “We wanted to honor Mira’s legacy in a respectful way and celebrate her.”

There are a few pins left, but don’t fret, there is a plan to order more, after Yaya makes a few edits to the image. “I’m a perfectionist,” she explains, adding that she had fun working on the project. “I really enjoyed drawing Mira and the whole process of making her look really like her. I tried to be simple, without taking away the essential parts of her features and at the same time keeping her spirit. She looks so serious. I would love to know the stories behind her serious face.”
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Located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is a private, college preparatory, boarding and day high school for girls grades 9-12.
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