Commissioned by 21st Century Community Learning Centers’ HUB Coordinator Sam Magnuson, the Diversity-Democracy art project was a two-week long after-school project for Spokane Garry Middle School eighth graders. Sam worked with me to develop the concept: a 4’-high pyramid embellished with student artwork to represent the themes of Diversity and Democracy. Garry science teachers Kelly Bacon-Hord and Betty Pattison supported the project with related in-class activities and after-school supervision.
The project challenged students to consider the following relationships: diversity and the survival of democracy; recycling and environment; diversity and bio-diversity; ethnicity and individuality; democracy and civic responsibility.
The themes of diversity and democracy are represented in the work of art by fACE (diversity) and hands (democracy, one-person/one-vote). The students’ creativity and originality visually express the vitalizing role diversity (many voices, many points of view) plays in a healthy democracy.
The student-artists were given an oval of plywood on which to design a face. If they chose to use a shape other than an oval, that shape was provided to their specifications. Then they fabricated their designs on the plywood templates using post-consumer recyclables, including: aluminum soft drink and fruit drink cans; cereal, cracker and pizza cartons; and plastic from containers such as shampoo bottles, detergent and motor oil containers. The hands on the pyramid are tracings of the students’ actual hands, translated in plastic and cardboard.
The pyramid was designed to
be portable so it can be easily displayed in public venues in the community.
It rests on a four-piece interlocking
base that is virtually hidden and makes the pyramid appear to hover off
the ground. The bottom tier of the pyramid is four separate pieces that
slip in place on the base. The “text tier” (Diversity-Democracy)
rests on the first tier; the third tier on the second; and the pyramid
is capped by a smaller pyramid fashioned from can lids. At the small
pyramid’s apex is an American eagle.
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