Edmunds Students Present Public Artwork Ideas for New School Building

Fifth grader Stephanie Oliver with her award-winning artwork.

There’s been lots of progress at the site of the new Edmunds Elementary School since ground was broken just last spring. The red brick exterior has been growing as steadily as the youngsters that will fill it up when the 2013-14 school year begins next August. It looks smooth and bright; sturdy and promising – just like they do.

As the project moves toward the finishing touches stage Edmunds art teacher David Borzo got the idea that perhaps it’s time for the new building’s tenants to contribute something to its design. He devised a contest for the current 4th and 5th graders to craft a model for a piece of public art that will be on permanent display when the new Edmunds opens its doors, either inside or somewhere on the campus grounds.

There were 33 entries vying not only for the chance to be immortalized at the new school but also for $500 worth of prizes donated by the contest sponsors:  Gateway Market, Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines Art Center, The Great Frame Up, Storied Gifts and the Edmunds Art Department. A panel of five judges made up of Edmunds staff and district administrators weighed the works against a range of criteria including concept, originality, artistic quality and overall message. Each of the artists presented their mock-up to the panel and the probing began: What does that represent? How did you come up with this idea? How big would this be? What materials would be used?

One bashful but talented girl literally stood behind her placard when she faced the judges, preferring to let her work speak for itself like Olympic figure skaters and gymnasts do. The lone abstract entrant explained the balance inherent in his vision of a pyramid adorned by three spheres. Opting for the team approach, three girlfriends took turns confidently describing the elements of their photographic collage.

Many of the designs in the gallery incorporated flags in recognition of all the different nationalities that comprise the Edmunds community. And Eddie, the school’s “wildcat” mascot who bears a striking resemblance to a lion, was also prominently featured.

When the creative dust was settled the results were these:

  1. Stephanie Oliver, 5th grade, for her piece: The Arts at Edmunds. It honors the old school’s origins as an arts academy and the logo which represents a ballet shoe, a paintbrush and a treble clef. Stephanie cut up countless small pieces of colored paper for her model which she told the judges represent the colored glass that will be part of the finished product.
  2. Ricco Kemp, Jr. 5th Grade, for his piece: Edmunds History. Ricco’s model was a sketch depicting a young boy reading a book about Edmunds. He imagined it as a piece of sculpture to be placed outside the main entrance.
  3. Sofia Hassan, 5th Grade, for her Piece: Planet Edmunds. Sofia’s concept was a new world looming above the new Edmunds like a sun in the sky with a flag-waving Eddie peeking over the planetary curve.

Photos of the Edmunds Art Contest

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