Kevin Reese

Students work with Kevin Reese and his SchoolSculptures program to put together a collaboratively designed mobile. The mobiles are hand-made and feature the input of hundreds of students and community members. The program is part of a five-day artist residency.

Kevin Reese has been commissioned by the Reif Center to create a one-of-a-kind mobile for the Reif Performing Arts Center and the Community of Grand Rapids. Reese, an artist from Washington D.C., will present his program, SchoolSculptures. SchoolSculptures is designed to teach students math, science, teamwork and art through the creation of a large mobile. The mobile will be designed by Reese with its parts created by area elementary, middle school, and high school students. Eleven schools have elected to participate in SchoolSculptures at this time.

“This project really engages the whole community,” said Reif Center Marketing Director Katie Benes. “Which is what the Reif Center is all about.”

Reese is an international artist who has collaborated with schools and communities to create high flying mobiles and swirling “staybils.” Since 2001 he has worked with thousands of children and adults to build over 90 moving pieces of public art. Reese’s art has been featured in places such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Taiwan International Children’s Festival. SchoolSculptures has been presented more than 1,200 times during 16 seasons of national and international touring, according to the SchoolSculptures website.

“He’s very inventive, very imaginative,” said Benes.

Reese will be in town from Feb. 22 through March 4 making Minnesota his twenty-sixth state to support SchoolSculptures. A free presentation, “Mobilizing the Arts,” will be held at the Grand Rapids Area Library from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 25.

On Feb. 27, Reese will meet with level five, six, and seven Reif students at the Reif Dance studios. Scheduled dates for each elementary, middle, and high school can be found on the respective school calenders. Reese will also host a workshop for the Centennial Rotary.

“I see this as a really great hands-on activity,” said Benes. “It teaches creative and practical lessons.”

In Reese’s three week visit, he will work with area schools and their students to design an artist’s model of a mobile called a marquette. The students will learn design and balance skills in the process. Reese will then photograph the marquette to use as inspiration for the final design.

Later in the year, Reese will return with a master marquette and will work with area students again to fabricate full size mobiles. Over a five-day period, students will help Reese measure, draw out, sand, paint and balance the mobile. The students decide together what colors to use and how those colors will be applied to the mobile. On the final day, the mobile is installed and unveiled for the entire school community.

Local businesses will have the opportunity to “adopt” a mobile by financially contributing to the Mobilizing Our Community campaign. Any supporting businesses will receive a sticker for their door that says “We’ve Been Mobilized!” The sticker serves as a symbol of their commitment to “Mobilizing Our Community.”

The community will enjoy the mobiles for years to come. In fact, Reese’s student-crafted mobiles have been fireproofed for safety. The only “maintenance” they will need is dusting every five or so years.

Visit to learn more about Kevin Reese and his projects.


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