Adult artists, engineers, and other community creatives aren’t the only ones preparing their human-powered sculptures for the upcoming Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade. This year, multiple Key West schools and two “Kinetic Coaches” have joined in the craze, innovatively engaging in STEAM initiatives and the exploration of social commentary that parade namesake Stanley Papio was well known for— as they transform tricycles into Kinetic Sculpture Float entries for the May 6th parade.
“A kinetic parade is the perfect amalgamation of STEAM subjects,” says Director of Education Adele Williams,. “If students are provided with a practical application for areas that they have been studying, the cross-disciplinary learning can’t help but happen.”
Key West Art & Historical Society’s new Kinetic Coaches in Schools program, led by Williams, teamed local artists Suzanne Brown and Steve Linden with five Key West schools (Horace O’Bryant Middle School, St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, May Sands Montessori, Sigsbee Charter School, and Collegiate Academy). Brown, a textile artist who studied metalsmithing and ceramics with a B.F.A. from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, has spent the last three decades with mixed media and three-dimensional art-building as her passion, habitually spurred by the discovery of a found object. She has taught classes in everything from sewing to 3D art and design. Linden, who got his bearings with a B.F.A. at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, exhibited during the SoHo heyday and currently in the Ripley Museums and M.O.M.A. He has worked with kids in the school system for more than thirty years. Following a presentation by Williams that introduces students to kinetic principals and to Florida Keys’ pioneering folk artist Stanley Papio, whose recycled metal sculptures abound with a clever sense of satire, tenacity, and innovation, Brown and Linden lead their individual groups in the physical crafting of kinetic sculpture floats.
The program—supported by $400 scholarships per school from Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina—provides students countless opportunities to tap into STEAM, an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. STEAM is an acronym that might be more familiar as STEM— The “A” (for Art/Design) was government mandated into the STEM initiative in 2015, with the aim of supporting students in reaching their full potential and helping to create future innovators, educators, leaders and learners of the 21st century.
“The addition of Art into STEM has been active in this program as we started the brainstorming with sketches,” says HOB Art teacher Ashlie Hood. “We have continued that by developing a vision for our kinetic sculptures in an aesthetically-pleasing way.”
At HOB, five student groups of 6th through 8th graders under the direction of Brown and teachers Ashlie Hood, Katie Holtkamp, and Cynthia Houpt are responsible for the construction and testing of a five-piece interactive sculpture based on their love of the coral reef. With a generous $350 donation from Strunk Ace Hardware and donated plywood from Manley DeBoer Lumber, the 40 students are constructing their entry using an old paddleboard, chicken wire, plywood, a large tricycle and a bevy of recycled bits and parts that would be sure to make Stanley Papio proud.
“Don’t limit yourself,” says Kinetic Coach Brown to her workshop of students. “If you can think and dream it up, then let’s do it!”
With the students’ problem solving, collaboration and creativity, their kinetic sculptures are full “steam” ahead. Be sure to come and witness their genius at the May 6th Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade that kicks off at noon in front of the Custom House Museum!
For registration information, event schedule, entry guidelines and sponsorship information, visit www.papiokineticparade.com. The Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of the Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida. Additional support provided by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, Historic Tours of America, Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina and Southernmost Beach Café. Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.