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WESTTOWN — It was a long 10 months from conception to completion, but West Chester Rustin High School students could stand back and be proud of the sculpture they created which now stands in front of the main entrance to their school.
The students, from Rustin’s 3D-Design/Sculpture class, got the idea for the sculpture from teacher Joe Arscott when the news came they received a grant for it from the West Chester Area Education Foundation.
“We were studying a couple of different artists and we found one who does a lot of big sculptures outside,” said Jenna Moore, a senior and one of the students who created the sculpture. “It’s taking the idea of filling big spaces with bricks and different-shaped items to fit into the big circle. We took our inspiration from that.”
The sculpture was unveiled Thursday night in front of Rustin during a little ceremony.
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“It’s more of a personal view, but (the sculpture) is like us fitting together and coming together as a school,” Moore said. “It’s interesting to see all that. There are a lot of different personalities in my art class, but we all came together to form this huge thing.”
Arscott helped design the sculpture, only because it took very specific guidelines, Moore said, but the rest was up to the students.
“It was very ambitious,” said Kari Lane, a student who helped create the sculpture. “We were all a little unsure of it. It’s exciting now to see how it has come about.”
Thirty-six students combined from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years put in the work on the sculpture, which was mostly built during class with a few Saturdays thrown in.
The 6 foot, 2,000-pound steel and concrete sculpture is unique because it was made to be green, using EPS concrete block forms, retired signs from the football stadium and foam and latex paint leftovers from local businesses.
“I was mostly in the foam department,” Lane said. “We had chicken wire over recycling bins, trash cans or any kind of bucket we had. I would take the Styrofoam and spend whole periods at a time grinding down the foam. That was the initial process starting out.”
The students then took the grinded-down Styrofoam and mix in old paint before adding Portland cement, sand and water. Through some trial and error, the students were able to come up with lightweight pieces which could withstand the elements outside.
After letting it sit for six days, the students then cut the pieces to fit into the steel ring and mortared them into place.
“So many of my clothes now are stained with concrete and latex paint, but I love it,” said Kira Fleorsheim, one of the sculpting students. “It’s a great reminder of how this process worked. It really was applying life skills to this. You can only do so much with a No. 2 pencil and a test. This was really using skills we learned in school.”
The sculpture was created to look solid at first glance, but reveal individual pieces upon closer inspection to create the entity. In a way, it’s to reflect the Rustin community – that everyone matters and is important due to their uniqueness.
It’s something the art students can be proud of and something they hope to be able to see anytime they come back to visit the school after graduation.
“It’s the first (sculpture) outside and it feels really good,” Moore said. “It’s awesome that it will be here forever and it’s something we all put our sweat into. It will be cool to come back in 10 years and say I made that.”