Art can be many different things to many different people. Drawing and painting, or sculpture for instance. These are the fine arts, or those whose creations are primarily aesthetic and for visual pleasure. There are also the performing arts. Theatre, dance, and music – all of which have enjoyed a rich history in this community – are included in this category. And then there are the industrial arts, such as drafting and engineering.
Wait...What? Engineering? Art?
Absolutely. Just ask Bill Dufour, the Computer Aided Design and Pre-engineering instructor at the Delta Schoolcraft ISD. “This program is unlike many others in that it allows a student to come up with an idea, design that idea and then ultimately build it.”
That sounds suspiciously like art. Which may be why the work of Dufour’s students, along with items from the robotics teams of the Escanaba and Gladstone high schools, will be on display at the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center in their upcoming exhibit, “Kid Produced: Industrializing Education.” Opening on June 25, the purpose of the exhibit will be to promote the marriage between the arts and science in education.
This is not new territory for the Bonifas. Their Fourth Grade Afield program exposes and introduces fourth graders in Escanaba to the scientific method of gathering and documenting data through art and nature journaling. And this past year they partnered with the Rapid River Schools on an Arts in Education grant through the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs where students explored science and local culture through a delivery of the arts.
With the “Kid Produced: Industrializing Education” exhibit, the task of the Bonifas is slightly different than with previous programs. In this case, all the hands-on work has already been done so instead of helping to educate students, this time the Arts Center is helping students to educate the public.
Dufour recognizes the value in this. “The potential of the program is not just what it provides for the students,” he says, “but what it gives to the community as well. People who visit this exhibit will have an opportunity to see the creative side of these students and hopefully understand that given the right tools, students are capable of designing and building anything they put their minds to.”
Tim Barron, the coach of the Gladstone high school’s BraveBots team, echoes Dufour’s excitement over the interconnection between the students and their community. “We have an excellent group of adult mentors. They assist the kids with the building of the robot and help them with many of the hands-on type skills they need to be successful. By the end, most of the students turn out to be experts in their particular facet of the robot.”
“Everything on display in this exhibit has been designed and/or built by students,” Dufour points out. “Every picture, every robot, every piece was an idea that was thought up by students. Their minds conceived it and their hands had to draw it. That’s not merely science, that's art.”
“Kid Produced: Industrializing Education” will run in the gallery of the Bonifas until July 30. There will also be an Open House in conjunction with sidewalk sales on July 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. Exhibit viewing and the open house are both free to the public. For more information, contact the Arts Center at 786-3833