ParishEpiscopal – Guest Contributor
Sep 10 2015

Insects and ideas, robots and rovers have invaded the Jonsson Gallery at Parish Episcopal School for the first collaborative gallery show between PARISHarts and ParishSTEM.

The show titled Design includes a variety of work from all three divisions- Lower, Middle and Upper School– with many different disciplines.

“As part of PARISHarts’ continued collaboration with all areas of programing, this opportunity was a natural fit,” said Dr. Karl Leopold Reiss, Director of PARISHarts.

Dr. Reiss often states that “nothing exists in isolation” and that is apparent in Design. Parish students meshed together lessons from art, science, math, religion and robotics to create more than 20 projects.

“The point of the show is to display that design, and the design process, is something that is shared between artists, scientists, engineers and all makers,” said Ingrid Geisler, Middle and Upper School Art, PARISHarts.

Students did not just create art; they researched a concept, adapted those ideas, gathered materials and solved problems before putting their ideas into production.

“At Parish we emphasize process, a quality end product is important but most of the learning occurs through the creative process,” said Jenn Makins, Director of STEM Education.

The materials, used in the process, are just as varied as the methods. Students resource wood, metal, string, cardboard, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, PVC pipe, plastic, butcher paper and nylon.

“At some juncture in the process, students will inevitably have to redesign their project once, twice, maybe many times before they reach a finished project ready for public consideration,” said Makins.

That unique blend of collaboration, ideas and materials sets Design apart from other shows. Where else can you find a mousetrap car near room models with LEGOS and glitter; a pink and black foam roller coaster in juxtaposition to a metal sculpture and elaborate kites?

“We built a box kite in the shape of a star,” said Emma E., Class of ‘19.

It took many hours of measuring and playing with materials outside the norm of wood and paper. In the end, the project took on a Shakespearean theme: a kite within a kite.

“That’s true,” Emma laughed.

“We built a mini kite that went inside the kite box. Then it fell apart,” she said.

The pieces have real meaning for the students; they are a personal expression of their passions and personalities and in many cases evidence of their hard work.

“I’ve seen students work long hours, willing to stay late at night to get a project right. The kids have fun being creative and have permission to try and fail, and try again,” said Makins.

The student Human Exploration Rover, situated in the middle of the show, is a fine example of that long term focus and determination. A visitor may notice a quirky, four-wheeled bicycle; but the students who have worked on the rover for nearly two years, see something entirely different.

“A lot of hard work,” commented Sophie A., Class of ’17.

“I feel a lot of accomplishment and happiness because I know how many hours we put into the rover course,” she added.

The exhibit showcases the talents of Parish students and encourages others to tap into their creativity as well. Two fourth graders, who stopped by the show opening last week, spent at least 10 minutes winding yarn around wall pins during an interactive exhibit. They described it as easy, fun and creative.

Design will be featured in the Jonnson Gallery, on the Midway campus, through November 16. The next gallery show- “Tri 1 Selected Works: K-12”- is December 3.