Students, artists collaborate on sculpture

by Daniel McKay
Whitefish Pilot | April 15, 2020 1:00 AM

Whitefish High School is expected to be adorned with a new outdoor sculpture as part of a student and community collaboration.

Stumptown Art Studio Education Coordinator Charity Flowers and WHS senior Devin Beale presented their plans for a new metal sculpture to the Whitefish School Board.

The sculpture would be located along the walking path between the high school and the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, and features two unisex human heads on either side of the path, connected overhead by metal gears.

The heads are planned be about 6 feet tall with a plexi-glass cover over the top of the head to reveal the inner workings of the structure’s “mind.”

Originally the plan was to have the overhead gears in motion together, Beale told the school board, but that wasn’t as practical as they’d hoped.

“We wanted the whole thing to move, but realized due to the fact of where we live it wasn’t going to last very long through all the weather,” he said.

So far the project has raised about $8,000, comprising a $5,000 grant from the Montana Arts Council, $2,000 from the Whitefish Community Foundation, and $1,000 from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. Others in the community have donated time and services to the project as well.

Flowers said the estimated budget for the project is around $15,000, depending on material cost and how much of those materials can be donated.

The idea for the project came during brainstorming sessions for an art project in a WHS conference room, which was completed several years ago. The conference room was decorated with a mural, but the idea of gears churning within a student’s head stuck, Flowers said.

“This was one of the ideas for that wall, the two heads and the gears. Principal Kerry Drown said, ‘Well I kind of still like this idea,’” Flowers said. “We started to look at how do we pull in some disciplines that aren’t specifically art. That’s how it got scaled up into concrete and gears.”

When the project was originally presented to the board, Flowers said the hope was to finish the project by graduation time.

Since Montana schools have been closed and moved to remote learning through at least April 24, Flowers says the project has now been pushed back.

Some fundraising still needs to take place anyway, but she said there are community members willing to step in and help get the project done.

“I don’t want to plow forward with this right now because there’s no point in the adults doing it, we need the students to do it. That’s up in the air, and I really don’t think were going to make our graduation deadline,” she said.

Though it may be postponed, Flowers said she’s still excited to see the project come to fruition.

It’s a great experience for everyone involved, she said, especially the students.

“All the kids involved will have a great thing to list in their resumes. It’s a transition to building trades, doing proposals for art, building grants. I think this is some real world experience they can go forward with,” she said.