Student artwork is typically plastered on fridges more than community venues, but DMPS can now add Weeks Middle School to its steadily growing list of student public art installations.
A mural with the theme of Unity Within Diversity was created by current students, alumni, staff, parents and volunteers on a Saturday in May and mounted on the building’s exterior facade this week.
Art teacher Jessica Wenck explained how the opportunity arose at Weeks as the next in a series of public art projects that began at Willard Elementary in the spring of 2016.
“Dave Diers was the guy who got this all started by talking to a group of us art teachers back then, and I decided I’d like to try and get something done with our 8th graders this year,” she said. “Dave helped us find a community collaborator and we went from there.”
Artist Tina Ehrlich, Director of Operations with Liz Lidgett Gallery, helped facilitate the project through brainstorming sessions with students who then developed the final design, working closely with Weeks principal Cheryl Modlin and Wenck.
Dr. Modlin is pleased with the result.
“It doesn’t seem quite as big on the building as it felt when it was sitting inside,” she said as she admired the installation on Wednesday afternoon, “but it sure looks great.”
Joint fundraising efforts by DMPS and the Lidgett Gallery underwrote the project. Sherwin Williams donated the paint, C2F Inc. donated paintbrushes and Veridian Credit Union donated supplies and staff time.
Wenck had hoped to get the panels up by the end of the school year, but the DMPS Operations Department was delayed by repair work around the district in the wake of spring storms.
“Now it will be a fantastic way to welcome students back when school starts next month,” Wenck said.
The portfolio of high profile art installations by DMPS students is beginning to bulge. Projects completed in just the last few years include:
- campus murals at Oak Park Elementary, Perkins Elementary, and Windsor Elementary schools.
- community projects by students from Willard Elementary School and Carver Elementary School, along with a consortium of DMPS high schools.
- collaboration with the Des Moines Art Center by students at Findley Elementary School.
- a graffiti mural on a flood wall by high school students involved with Run DSM/Movement 515.
- a mural by Roosevelt High School art students commissioned by the Polk County Board of Supervisors for the new downtown courthouse.
If this keeps up, and why shouldn’t it, the DMPS monogram could just as easily become DMPAG, as in the Des Moines Public Art Gallery.