All Schools Day
Since early 2021 I have been busy working on a large sculptural project honoring the 107 year history of All Schools Day in McPherson, Kansas.
In 1914, the community came together to celebrate the graduation of McPherson County 8th graders. Since then, the parade has become the largest celebration in the state of Kansas and has grown to honor high school and college graduates, as well as 8th graders. The completed monument will be permanently installed in early 2022 in time for the event.
The composition of the five kids dancing around a May pole was inspired by traditional ceremonies of the May pole dance with a more modern take. Traditionally, school age girls wore long dresses with flower crowns and were the primary entertainers. However, I felt it was important to include both girls and boys in order to be “all-inclusive”.
Although each of the five kids are walking in the same direction doing the same thing for the most part, I was concerned with creating each of them in a unique pose with unique clothing and slightly different facial expressions. As such, each child maintains a sense of happiness and playfulness throughout while maintaining a sense of individualism.
In the center will be a 12 foot tall aluminum flag pole. And attached will be five colored streamers mounted to the top that each kid holds to create the unique weave pattern.
At the rear of the May pole will be two 7 foot tall black granite tablets. Each tablet will be laser etched with text and images of the unique history of All Schools Day in McPherson. Off to the side will be two black granite benches that will hold two large circular shaped discs. These porcelain discs will have historical illustrations by two children commemorating the annual event.
Linear pavers will be laid in a similar design and shape as the plaza of the Globe Refiners monument. Last of all uplighting will bring the monument to life at night.
• As in all of my sculptures, I pay close attention to little details. As such, buttons, shoe laces and hair have as much detail as a dress or shirt. Generally, I spend about 40% of my time on the facial details. I am amazed at how little movements in facial expressions can affect the feeling of a monument. Undoubtedly a simple smile can easily convey a sense of joy from the slight raise of an eyebrow, for example.
• One of the children is straight from the 1930s depression-era, with his newsboy cap and suspenders. Importantly, I included this historical figure to connect our past to the present day.
• In an attempt to connect the nearby Globe Refiners monument with this monument, one of the girls is wearing low-top converse shoes. Details of the bronze converse shoes on the Globe Refiners monument was recently included in a book by Rich Hughes “If The Shoe Fits: How Sport Stars Fashion The Sneaker Culture”. by connecting two very different monuments in this subtle way and tipping the hat to the first Gold Medal Olympic basketball team, it is a show of respect albeit in a small subtle way.