Samples of previous pillars created by Halsey.

The Matthews celebrates its 110-year anniversary with a school residency art workshop titled, “The Pillar Project.” The eleven finished pillars, one for each decade of The Matthews being the cultural heart of Spearfish, will be on display in the art gallery during business hours, Nov. 14-Dec. 16.  

Springfield, SD visual artist, Cheryl Halsey, brings her unique cylinder, also referred to as pillars, technique, and instruction to three schools in Spearfish. The project is a celebration of our community’s continued support of the arts over the last 110 years. It is to be a historical representation of local, national, and global history. These workshops are part of the South Dakota Arts Council’s Artists In Schools & Communities program. 

“The Pillar Project” is coordinated by The Matthews outreach manager, Ava Sauter. “The pillars are unique representations of our community’s historic commitment to the arts. The Matthews Opera House has been a center for the arts in Spearfish for over a hundred years. We hope by involving the youth in a project such as this, the tradition will continue for another hundred years,” says Sauter. 

About the Project & Artist

cheryl-halsey-webHalsey teaches students visual problem solving, a good work ethic, and increased spatial intelligence through art. Belief in the basic elements of arts and their relationship to all subjects is the foundation of Cheryl’s educational philosophy. In her residencies, she uses individual, group, and all-school projects to stimulate students’ curiosity and develop their problem-solving skills by investigating the endless possibilities involved in the creation of art. Exploring these possibilities and teaching that process to students with common and readily available material is her passion. 

According to the artist, “The freedom to pursue a thought or idea lends itself to unique possibilities and the discovery of new solutions to problems. We can invent our own problems or solve existing ones.” Halsey often works three-dimensionally. Her favorite mediums are paper, glue, cardboard, and found objects. However, she also offers residencies in drawing.

“Where there’s an art teacher, we have a great time brainstorming and pursuing the mission,” remarks Cheryl. Her commissioned installations can be seen at Sioux Falls’ Children’s Care Hospital & School, Avera McKennan Hospital Pediatric Clinic, Sioux Falls Surgical Center, the Middle Border Museum in Mitchell, Sanford Children’s Hospital, and in many private collections.

“Cylinders (pillars) have become a format which I respect. They are flat and 3D at once. The history of them being decorative and signage, is integral to my desire to make things that are simply interesting to look at,” comments Halsey.

Halsey will be working with Spearfish teachers and students to create eleven decorative pillars that represent the eleven decades since the opening show on the Matthews Opera House Stage in 1906. Teachers at Creekside Elementary, Spearfish High School, and Canyon Hills Center are hosting the artist for three weeks to create the eleven pillars. The pillars are to include photos and items from a decade in Spearfish history — 1900s-2000s. Students are creating the pillars together, but each classroom has a main focus on one particular decade. Students then study and learn about their assigned decade. At this point, they come up with visually creative ways to design and construct their class pillar.

Items collected by Halsey, The Matthews art center, and individual classrooms are to be fixed onto each pillar to create a collage for each decade. Thank you to The Fassbender Collection for allowing us to use their photos in the creation of these pillars.

“While working with the children, I hope to inspire them to work on their own, as there’s often little time for or no art in schools. Hopefully, I offer something for teachers to work with. My own philosophies are often challenged and I am then newly inspired in my own work.” — Cheryl Halsey


Schools Participating

Creekside Elementary

  • Lisa Merchen (4th grade) – 1940s
  • Sydney Haugland (4th grade) – 1920s
  • Pam Gillespie (5th grade) – 1970s

GATE Program (Gifted And Talented Education) – After school program program for 4th-5th graders at Creekside

  • Sydney Haugland – 1900s
  • Sydney Haugland – 2000s

Spearfish High School

  • Lisa Howard – 1980s and 1990s
  • Stacy Weglin – 1950s and 1960s

Canyon Hills Center1910s and 1930s

Watch the Pillar Project Evolve

CLICK HERE to see images of the creation of each decade’s pillar. 

Brought to you by…

This program is sponsored by The Matthews, with support provided by the South Dakota Arts Council, with funds from the State of South Dakota, Spearfish Foundation for Public Education, and through the Department of Tourism and State Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts.