KANSAS CITY, Missouri, July 15, 2019 – In the stairwell at Gordon Parks Elementary, students helped create, in the 2018-2019 school year, a beautiful, unique, metal framed, hanging art piece called the Mobile Project.
Starting over a year ago, local artist, sculptor, and designer, Chris Duh and members of the Gordon Parks staff began brainstorming a hanging mobile project involving our students.
A group of Gordon Parks staff members including Gordon Parks’ Child Therapist, Evan Linville, and Third Grade Teacher, Sean Klippel, began meeting with Duh in the Fall of 2018 and they drew up the concept for this mobile. From there they started to involve the students in their classrooms and had lessons about animal adaptations and how they adapt to survive.
Duh said, “I got to see dedicated teachers and board members work to make a positive change for those that went through the curriculum based project.”
This art piece reflects the learning, creative process, and development that occurred in our kindergarten and third grade classrooms. This project allowed students to learn about approaches to research different animals and their unique attributes that allow adaptation and survival. Students participated in a guided visualization where they identified three animals and their attributes, and then created their own one-of-a-kind animal. The students drew a picture of their animal and wrote a short story about how their animal can adapt to survive.
“One of the great things about this type of project is how it enriches the students’ learning experiences,” Linville said. “Not only were Missouri teaching standards fulfilled throughout the project, but kids had hands-on, community-based experiences that also encouraged them to reflect on their own identities, challenges and attributes – a practice which has the potential to deepen understanding and shape each child’s character.”
While the kids were working on this project in the classroom, Duh worked with Alex Espy at Paul Mesner Puppets. Espy hosted our students for workshops which related to the project and social-emotional development. At these workshops, the third grade class was able to make puppets out of paper bags and draw their invented animals. They wrote stories of origin which shared how their animals got their attributes.
“I loved the process of making something that leaves a positive impression with children especially,” Duh said. “I feel like we achieved that with this project.”
To finish this project in the spring of 2019, Duh took the drawing of the animals, scanned and digitally processed them, and had them printed on fabric. The fabric was framed into panels that make the mobile. Duh worked with Robert Zahner, Vice President of A. Zahner Company, a local family owned, world renowned metal fabrication company.
Duh said, “I also learned a lot about different fabrication processes that allowed me to grow as an artist.”
Zahner and his team installed and fabricated some needed pieces for hanging this project. This mobile is now on display in our stairwell at Gordon Parks Elementary.
Linville said, “The kids worked really hard and had a great deal of fun, and our school is more beautiful because of that effort.”