ELMHURST – Collaboration makes a community richer.
That is why the Elmhurst Art Museum, Lincoln Elementary School, and Elmhurst College decided to come together and create an art installation to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Lincoln Elementary School.
This visual celebration will be on display at Lincoln’s 100 Year Anniversary open house from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 19. Admission is free, and everyone in the community is welcome to celebrate and enjoy the art.
Last winter, the Lincoln PTA contacted the Elmhurst Art Museum to commission a piece of contemporary art that reflected both a sense of community and celebrated the school’s anniversary.
Teaching artists Sarah Johnson and Anna Lentz decided to create a tessellation, an art piece that is made by repeating a shape over a plane of space. This type of art fit the requirements: it reflected the individuality of the children, it represented the sense of community in Elmhurst, it was dimensional so it could be viewed in a long and narrow hallway and it could be moved in case Lincoln underwent a renovation in the future.
The most important aspect was that every student could participate in the creation the piece. That was quite a task, considering there are around 600 children at Lincoln.
When deciding on a theme, Johnson and Lentz were inspired by Jacob Hashimoto, a New York-based contemporary artist educated at the Art Institute of Chicago. The circle was chosen as the dominant shape in the tessellation, because it is a symbol of community.
Students gathered in the cafeteria where Johnson and Lentz asked them to think about something that brought them joy as they painted their circles.
The teaching artists said they were impressed with how quickly the students grasped the concept and with their confidence when creating art. Johnson and Lentz could tell that the students had learned about color, space and other creative concepts from Lincoln art teacher Kathryn Bernahl.
Each child painted something that was meaningful to them. Some of the themes included nature, music, abstract color and Lincoln school.
Elmhurst College students were also an integral part of the collaboration.
The college’s Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA) is a four-year program for young adults with developmental disabilities. These students gain real life work experience and skills by working at the Elmhurst Art Museum, and they helped by priming the 600 circles and drilling holes in them so the circles could be hung together.
To assemble the more than 600 individual artistic creations into one cohesive piece of art, Johnson and Lentz transported all the individual paintings in pizza boxes to the Dundee area where Johnson owns a small farm. Once there, they built frames with 2-by-4-foot beams and spent the summer of 2015 putting the pieces together.
The result is a colorful and multi-dimensional art piece that looks different depending on what angle it is viewed from. It reflects the individuality of each student and also demonstrates how individuals come together to make this community.