More than 100 students, teachers and parents from the Santa Monica-Malibu area gathered at the Santa Monica Museum of Art last week for the unveiling of the museum’s latest large-scale, public art installation “Wall Works: Zippy’s Nicknacks, Tonics, and Magical Gadgets,” designed by local artist Bari Ziperstein and created with the work of elementary and high school students.
Inspired by Claes Oldenburg’s iconic “The Store” (1961), Ziperstein’s first public art project transformed an ordinary hallway at Bergamot Station into a site-specific 3-D installation of an imaginary store called Zippy’s Nicknacks, Tonics, and Magical Gadgets. The students designed and created handmade 3-D products constructed with materials—boxes, string, markers, and collaged paper-provided by the museum for free. “Children have the most inventive and imaginative minds. Art taps into that and we are blown away by their creativity, individuality, and enthusiasm,” said Asuka Hisa, the museum’s director of education. “The museum and the Wall Works artist provide an opportunity for all of our ideas to shine.”
Fifth-grade Webster Elementary School teacher Karen Verham said, “The project was amazing. We don’t have money for art supplies, so this was especially exciting for the students – and for me. It allowed us to use our imagination and bring art into the classroom in different ways. There were many connections that we made with math, science, art, writing, reading, creating and consumerism.”
The installation was designed in collaboration with Minnesota-based architect Wade Ziperstein. The museum made a video with Bari Ziperstein that was given to the schools, along with lesson plans, to explain the project, and supplies were donated. Zippy’s Nicknacks, Tonics, and Magical Gadgets will be on display through January 30, 2011. Developed by Asuka Hisa, director of education at SMMA, the biannual Wall Works program involves students from Kindergarten through 12th grade in collaborative art-making projects that connect them with important local artists during the academic school year. To date, Wall Works has involved more than 4,000 students, 17 artists, 35 schools in five districts.