Posted: Dec. 19, 2019 10:00 pm
QUINCY — A little bit of wing walking brought a piece of art to life Thursday at Thomas S. Baldwin Elementary School.
Students lifted and “walked” two wings of the biplane sculpture to the fuselage, carefully holding on as they were bolted into place.
South Carolina artist Bob Doster fashioned the sculpture from handprints of Baldwin students, staff and friends — making a lasting impression about the importance of art.
“It’s really important,” fourth-grader June Reis said. “Kids know that your art is celebrated and kids know that you can do anything you put your mind to.”
The piece, titled “Flyers,” is one of eight sculptures to be installed by April at Quincy Public Schools five elementary schools, Quincy Junior High School, Quincy High School and Quincy Notre Dame High School, thanks to a partnership between Arts Quincy (the Quincy Society of Fine Arts) and the Moorman Foundation to celebrate education.
“The sculptures were chosen to represent the spirit of these schools, none more so than this one made up of handprints in the shape of a biplane. The school is the flyers (emphasizing) how kids can soar,” Arts Quincy Executive Director Laura Sievert said.
“It’s like any symbol. Symbols bring us together, give us something to focus on,” Baldwin School Support Family Liaison Travis Patrick said. “For us, having something physical to look at, especially something we’re all a part of, really helps bring us together as a group.”
Doster was at Baldwin in September to help students trace their hands and start cutting out the pieces of 16-gauge stainless steel, then finished the work at his studio.
“Once we got the armature built for the plane, it started going pretty quickly, but building the armature took forever to get it right,” Doster said. “I’m just looking forward to the students being able to see how their hands went together to create this plane. I think they’ll get a kick out of it.”
The sheer size of the sculpture — which is about 9 feet long with a 13-foot wingspan — impressed first-grader Rylan Distin. He spotted a tiny handprint on the plane before focusing on one of the wings.
“That wing is gigantic,” Rylan said. “That’s a huge wing.”
Patrick thought he knew what to expect with the finished piece.
“I had a picture in my mind of what the piece was going to look like. It was nowhere near this good. Clearly I do not have his level of creativity,” Patrick said.
Still to be installed is a dedication plaque including a medallion, suitable for rubbing and designed by students at the school. Designs by winning artists third-grader Jackson Califf and fourth-grader Isabel Rush will be combined into the medallion. Finalists in the design contest were Reis and fellow artist Leah Smith and fifth-grader Mason Parson.
“It’s incredibly special that they all got to be a part of this process and that each one of their little hands is on there, and for years to come they will be able to know that they had a part in it,” Isabel’s mom, Betsy Rush, said.
The sculpture project benefits both the schools and the community.
“We’re willing to invest in public art in a way a lot of communities don’t get to do,” Sievert said. “It’s an inspiration. It makes Quincy kind of unique, and it’s a reason we were voted most artistic small town in America two years in a row. It’s people thinking arts are important in the fabric of a community.”
And with a kindergarten son at Baldwin, Doster’s sculpture had special meaning to Sievert.
“As a mom, it’s really fun,” she said. “I know we can come back when he graduates high school, college, gets married and his handprint still will be there.”