Sculpting the School


Malayna Vines

“Progress” by Cierra Welsh

Abigail Imiolek, news-features writer

Three silver circles balance on one another in the courtyard at KHS. A book lays open with pages springing out. Soon, they will be joined by stick figures standing tall. Designs are being made by students and Nancy Grimes, art teacher, for two additional sculptures to join the existing sculptures in the garden at the center of KHS.

The sculpture garden was made possible when the KHS engineering department received a plasma cutter. It allows students to work with steel that will hold up under bad weather, unlike plaster, according to Grimes. Using the plasma cutter, her students designed and built a sculpture called “Progress,” the stack of circles. Dr. Mary Walker, from Walker Foundation, donated money that allowed “Progress” to be installed and for more sculptures to be made in the future, including one which students are currently designing a statue made of stick figures that represent the KHS student body.

“We [have] a sculpture that represents [the students’] progress at high school freshman through senior [year], and we [have] a piece which is an open book that talks about education,” Grimes said. “We’re all about the people that are here, so that’s why student body is the theme.”

The process of designing the sculpture began fall of 2016 in Grimes’ Sculpture I class. Each student made a cardboard cutout to come up with a potential design, according to Peter Bambini, senior.

“I like the idea that students are able to get their sculptures in the sculpture garden, and even just around the school for other students to see,” Bambini said. “It’s pretty cool that the whole idea is there is an opportunity to put your work on campus.”

After her students came up with designs, Grimes contacted the KHS engineering department to brainstorm more designs for the sculpture. Jordan Fryer, engineering teacher, had her Introduction to Engineering and Design class make mock sculptures out of paper following specifications regarding movement and people.

“Some of [the designs the students came up with] were really interesting to look at,” Fryer said. “Some of the kids really took showing the movement to heart, and by making Kirkwood one concept by grouping together people, showing there are different levels and different people involved in making up what the high school is.”

Grimes is working on further  developing a sculpture design that shows two people holding up another two, with more branching off of those two people. Engineering students came up with the original design, according to Bambini, who is continuing to work with Grimes on the project. He made changes to the size of the figures, so the top stick figures are smaller than the bottom ones, allowing the statue to support itself.

“I liked that [the students decided] to do [a design] where students are supporting other students,” Grimes said. “That’s such a lovely thought, that we support each other here. It really appealed to me.”

Friday, March 3, Le Bleu Monkey consultant Victor Panchot looked at the possible sculpture designs to see if a sculpture will be able to stand and if it can be installed. Grimes plans to have the design finalized in April, the pieces cut in May and the sculpture installed in June.

“[The sculptures] each take a really long time from conception to completion and installation,” Grimes said. “In fact, the kids who worked on ‘Progress’ came back for its dedication. They were already in college, so it’s not a fast process.”

Grimes is also planning a project to create clay totems for the garden, starting with Art Fundamental classes and the National Art Honor Society. Each student will design one of four sides of a box, which will then be slid onto a steel pole into the ground. She plans to add them to the garden this year.

“Any student who wants to [design one of the sides will be able to],” Grimes said. “They  don’t even have to be in  Ceramics. We just hope that can be ongoing so everyone who wants to can be represented in some of the art in the

Malayna Vines
“Knowledge” by Katherine Miller

sculpture garden.”