Throughout 2014, the Dover Middle School Art Club collaborated with CMNH Artist-in-Residence Nathan Walker to create two Bike Racks for Henry Law Park in downtown Dover, NH. Made possible by the generous sponsorship of Kennebunk Savings, the bike rack design & completion process has been one of the most fulfilling and exciting projects that Children’s Museum has been involved in since moving to Dover in 2008.
At the beginning of the year, the Art Club – led by Dover Middle School Art teachers Marie Robicheau & Jo-Ann Gardella, met with Walker in his workshop in the lower level of CMNH. Before starting down the path of artistic collaboration, Walker wanted to show the students how he approached design. The students were able to see a large spectrum of Walker’s work in various stages of completion. Many of the sculptures viewed that day had one of Walker’s hallmarks: repurposed materials. From the Volkswagen Beetle hood that forms the back of the Giant Blue Crab in the front of CMNH to the various spiders, jellyfish and insects comprised of gears, hubcaps and Christmas Tree stands, the Art Club saw that their imagination was truly the limit in creating a bicycle rack for families visiting Henry Law Park. Walker also reinforced that the design process, where the eraser can sometimes be used just as much as the pencil, was equally as important as the building process.
The Art Club continued to meet under the guidance of Robicheau & Gardella while the students formed groups that would meet to discuss their ideas and draw up plans for their respective group’s vision for a bike rack. In addition to their design on paper, the groups were also tasked by Walker to create 3-D prototypes and models to better show how their bike rack design would work.
In April, Children’s Museum 0f New Hampshire President Jane Bard, Brendan Markey of Kennebunk Savings, and Walker met with Robicheau, Gardella and the assembled Dover Middle School Art Club as they prepared to pitch their completed ideas to the group.
Though the initial plan was to select one of the team’s ideas to make a single bike rack, Walker liked all of the ideas so much, that the choice was made that two racks would be created with each incorporating pieces of each group’s design ideas.
Three of the teams ideas would be incorporated into becoming the Steampunk Octopus Bike Rack, while two other teams would see their designs overlap to become the State of New Hampshire Bike Rack. After the Art Club members decided on which NH landmarks to include on the state themed rack, CMNH volunteer Barbara Albert got to work painting the finer details. Meanwhile, Nate began work on the foraging, welding, and color experimentation for the large steampunk cephalopod.
In October, the Art Club returned to the Museum with their original prototypes to see the final product of their combined visions. Dover Mayor Karen Weston joined Bard, Walker, the Art Club and their family and friends for the grand unveiling of the first bike rack, Steampunk Octopus, in upper Henry Law Park near the entrance of the museum.
The culmination of almost a year of work and cooperation between Kennebunk Savings Bank, the Dover Middle School Art Club, the Children's Museum of New Hampshire & Artist-In-Residence Nate Walker, the new Steampunk Octopus Bike Rack was unveiled this afternoon in Henry Law Park in front of CMNH! Pictured here with Nate and the Art Club members are CMNH President Jane Bard & Mayor of Dover Karen Weston. #CMNH #BikeRackProject #KennebunkSavingsBank #DoverMiddleSchool #DoverMiddleSchoolArtClub #ArtClub #NateWalker #Steampunk #Octopus #SteampunkOctopus #SeacoastNH #DoverNH #NewHampshire
A video posted by Children's Museum of NH (@childrensmuseumofnh) on Oct 2, 2014 at 2:15pm PDT
January in New Hampshire isn’t the best weather for families to ride their bikes, but we look forward to a few months from now when families visiting Henry Law Park will have two highly creative options for storing their bicycle while they visit the park, museum, stage, pool, river walk, picnic areas and playground.
We thank the incredibly imaginative and skilled members of the Dover Middle School Art Club, their teachers and mentors Marie Robicheau & Jo-Ann Gardella, the generous support of Kennebunk Savings – without which, this project would not have been possible – and, of course, Nate Walker, who took the inventive visions of the Club and made them a reality.B-r-r-r-r-r-r! See you all – and your bikes – in a few more months!