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Drawing in Space artist Dave Eppley collaborates with Findley Elementary School

Posted on Friday, October 6, 2017

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith
Tel: 515.271.0343
Email: bbsmith@desmoinesartcenter.org

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Des Moines Art Center Drawing in Space artist Dave Eppley collaborates with Findley Elementary School

DES MOINES, IOWA (October 2017) – Throughout the month of October, approximately 120 third- and fifth- grade students at Findley Elementary in Des Moines are composing hundreds of “bouquets” using various sizes and colors of vinyl hexagons. The floral vines will then be installed crawling up the north exterior wall of the Richard Meier building by Eppley November 1 – 4, and will be on display for approximately two weeks. The finished project will be celebrated at the Art Center at a reception for Findley students and their families, with the artist present, on Sunday, November 5 from 2 – 3:30 pm. This project is in conjunction with the exhibition, Drawing in Space, on view in the Art Center’s galleries and lobby through January 21, 2018.

From the onset of the exhibition planning process, the mass appeal of the work that would comprise the show was anticipated by everyone involved. Furthermore, since the exhibition makes extraordinary use of an everyday material—tape—a strong community component was envisioned that also used tape to achieve impact. Thus, a second project for the Art Center was conceived with Eppley and Art Center Director of Education Jill Featherstone. Featherstone tapped Ben Heinen, Des Moines Public Schools visual arts curriculum coordinator to give a recommendation for an elementary school with which to partner. Heinen contacted Findley Elementary school art teacher Lisa Hesse who was instantly up for the collaboration, furthering the school’s participation in the Turnaround Arts model, which is based on arts integration across the core curriculum to boost student achievement. Hesse was excited about the curriculum connections this project would yield: “The process of making the hexagonal flowers allows students in third grade to become proficient creating artwork that abstracts reality. Fifth-grade students are able to choose specific materials to create their original piece of artwork thanks to the various colors, sizes, and layouts that are made possible during this process (over 90 million possibilities!).”

To start the project, Eppley laser cut approximately 30,000 hexagons in his Brooklyn, New York studio and had them shipped to Des Moines. Eppley and Featherstone visited Hesse and Findley Principal Barb Adams in early September so Eppley could show them tips for creating the multilayered designs, how they can be combined to create “bouquets,” and how they can be composed in thoughtful ways onto the vines that Eppley designed as the structure for the collaborative artwork. According to the artist, “The kids will have plenty of freedom to design their personal canvas however they like.”

The students had an opportunity to connect with Eppley in early October via a 35-minute Skype conference call. They heard about his introduction to art and creative processes and then six students posed questions to him ranging from “Are you the first artist in your family” to “What is your favorite piece of artwork you’ve made.” Eppley answered Set One, Set Two (detail above), the piece included in the Drawing in Space exhibition. The call wrapped up with a group brainstorm about what the title of this artwork should be. The final piece will be unveiled and title announced at the celebratory reception on November 5.

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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