A couple years ago, Ms. Melissa Rupe, district elementary art teacher, and Joe Toman, architect and district parent, were inspired by the vastness of the foyer at Terrace Park Elementary and wanted to create artwork to fill the space. Toman had the perfect idea for an inspiration artist: Alexander Calder; and Rupe had the perfect idea for the actual artists: her lunch art enrichment 6th grade group.
“I wanted to help because I really enjoy both sculpture and volunteering with the elementary school students, one of which was my daughter, Sophie,” said Toman. “My favorite thing about the whole project was sharing the experience with Sophie, the other students and Ms. Rupe, and seeing the students get excited about sculpture, helping them make all the pieces and seeing their reactions after it was installed.”
Ms. Rupe introduced Alexander Calder and his mobiles to her lunch art enrichment 6th grade group and they were hooked. The project was lead by students Jimena Botella, Samantha Flerlage, Adelyn Holliday, Ella Terrell, Lily Tetrault and Sophie Toman.
These students took the process from the beginning to the end – from brainstorming concepts to meticulously cutting each piece to laboring over color choices to naming the design (“The Modern Solar System”) to giving feedback during the hanging of the piece.
“Decisions made by groups are the most difficult and yet the best learning experience of life,” said Rupe. “The girls also loved the power of the electrical saw they used to cut the gator board – I loved watching them feel empowered. Another bonus to the project: teamwork and power tools for women!”
“My favorite part was working together and seeing the finished product,” said Jimena. “And we had a lot of fun behind the scenes. Sophie’s dad was really nice to us. We enjoyed working with him, which was an important part of the project.”
These girls are all entering 8th grade now, so they do not get to see their artwork on a regular basis, but they still hear about it.
“When my younger sister walked into the building, she said all of the kids were wondering, like, what is that?,” said Samantha. “They were amazed by it. It’s hearing stuff like this that is really rewarding. I’m proud of what we’ve created together.”