West Tisbury School hangs flags of gratitude

Art project allows community members to express themselves.


As part of a project organized by West Tisbury School art teacher Lisa Magnarelli, students, teachers, and members of the community are hanging old pieces of cloth and shirts on a clothing line in front of the school, offering messages of thanks and hope.

“I was trying to think of a good art project for the kids. Something to encourage creativity but something that would allow them to be safe and work separately,” Magnarelli said. 

Some of the messages thanked healthcare workers for their bravery and dedication, while others showed gratitude for teachers, lunch ladies, and the sunshine.

One message read, “I am thankful for life.”

Years ago, Magnerelli said, she stumbled upon the idea on a picture-sharing website, and thought it would be a great way to bring joy and highlight the silver linings among all the angst and sadness. 

“We just leave the line out there and hope that anyone who sees it might add their own message of thanks,” Magnarelli said. 

She related the pieces of cloth to a Tibetan prayer flag, and said, “These are gratitude flags.

“Everyone from our school community is encouraged to cut out some old shirts or pieces of cloth and write messages of love and hope,” Magnarelli said.

But she said folks don’t necessarily have to be involved with the school community to contribute to the project. Any people who want to hang a shirt can scrawl a message with a Sharpie and hang it (with their own clips).

“There are several messages about the lunch ladies and the lunch program, because they are doing so many wonderful things for the community. But there are also messages thanking our incredible healthcare workers, and many others,” Magnarelli said. She said the project encourages creativity at home while adhering to social distancing.

“My vision is always huge,” Magnarelli said. “If the clotheslines get too packed, I will go out and add more. I hope to have clotheslines stretching the length of the base of Mount Everest to the peak.”

She said there is a nice variety of people participating, and a great mix of messages to convey to the Vineyard community.

“We have many different age groups and community members. Anyone who wants to add their own message can head to the school and clip up their flag,” Magnarelli said.