Student sculptors vie for Kickstarter capital

Students George Erie (left) and Scott Lindquist (center) show the mockup of their sculpture with teacher Jeremy Wright (right). (Photo by Helen Hawes)

Students George Erie (left) and Scott Lindquist (center) show the mockup of their sculpture with teacher Jeremy Wright (right). (Photo by Helen Hawes)

Helen Hawes

Four San Dieguito Academy High School seniors did it without regard for the materials and the cost, with the intent of stirring up the community. But they have to pay for it now. And they’re running out of time.

That’s because they’re part of a design team at the school that created a sculpture that will stand 8 feet tall when it’s finished in steel. They currently have a life-sized wood mockup of the piece. Their goal is to make this the first student-designed public art piece on campus. To do that, they’re raising money through Kickstarter, a website designed to generate cash for creative projects.

Visual arts teacher Jeremy Wright said he handpicked the design team of George Erie, Scott Lindquist, Malea Michaels and Sophie Prendergast when they were sophomores.

“I had these students in Sculpture and I sought them out because I thought they had a keen sense of 3D design,” Wright said.

He encouraged them to create a sculpture inspired by the words of philosopher Martin Heidegger: “People become numb to their surroundings and need unusual experiences to awaken their sense of wonder.”

Wright said he wanted the group to work together and use their collective imagination. He didn’t want the students to be limited by what the materials could and couldn’t do. The construction would have to fit the design, not the other way around.

So he assigned each student the task of creating three shapes out of foam core. The group sculpted together by assembling the shapes. One student would put two shapes together and pass it to the next one, who might take one off and add two more and so on.

“It was a kind of push and pull; we had a series of 13 progressive maquettes before we got to this,” Wright said, referring to the full-scale wood model of the final design.

Scott Lindquist, now a senior, said what he enjoyed most about the project was teamwork.

“We learned how to work better as a group, with collaboration, because we all had so many different ideas,” Lindquist said. “It was taking all these different ideas, putting them together and making them work.”

George Erie, now also a senior, had a different experience.

“Doing this gives me a reason to take pride in my school,” Erie said. “Students go through high school and move on. But we’ll always have something that we did, that we can come back to.”

Now the crew is discovering how to raise funds to bring their vision to life. They’re using Kickstarter to make it happen.

Kickstarter is a website that offers a platform to showcase creative projects and raise the cash required to bring them to life. This funding can come from friends, fans or anyone interested in making a promising project a reality.

Wright said creating the marketing on Kickstarter was also a learning experience. He called it “a visual telethon.”

Students put together a short film about the project and launched it on the site. The donation amounts were custom designed by the team so that anyone can get involved because the minimum donation is only $1. The maximum is limited to one person at $1,000. In return for their participation, some donors will receive anything from a newsletter update to the privilege of naming and unveiling the sculpture. But the fun doesn’t stop there. A $5 donation also brings a hug from the teacher.

To date, the funding campaign has raked in $1,170, but that’s far short of the $3,270 goal, which is a crucial dollar amount because Kickstarter is a take-no-prisoners venue. If the funding goal is reached, the donors’ credit cards are charged through Amazon. If they come up short, the backers aren’t charged because the project zeroes out.

When the sculpture does get funded, the collaboration at San Dieguito will continue to expand. Just as the wood mockup was created by Jeff Germano and his students in wood shop, the metal fabrication will take place with Jason Berend and his student welders. Finally, teachers and students will regroup to install the finished piece.

With luck, this will happen before the class of 2013 graduates. The deadline to raise the total amount is 3:43 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25. (Update Jan. 26: The project was successfully funded.)

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Helen Hawes is a North County freelance writer