Recycle Rodeo: Worcester
WORCESTER – There is a certain magic that happens when children are given the tools, encouragement and permission to create art. It has been Jerry Beck’s career to create that special brand of wonder, and the public is invited to be a part of it through a project called Recycled Rodeo, starting July 18 at Elm Park.
For Mr. Beck, a Fitchburg resident who is the executive director of the Revolving Museum, working with the kids at Seven Hills Charter Public School on Gage Street has renewed his passion for involving a community of people in the creation of sculpture. But it’s so much more than that.
“What we are helping kids to understand is that art isn’t just an object in a museum,” he said. “Involving kids in art as a social practice is something we do to help them understand collaboration and expression and the power of art as an aesthetic process. This is really the cutting edge of how we can make an impact in our communities.”
The Revolving Museum is a nonprofit organization that has been around since the 1980s, and it is an organization that has given rise to a number of community art programs over the decades. But Recycled Rodeo, which is a process that uses a colored tape product to wrap recycled materials into something meaningful for all participants, allows participants to experience an aesthetic wrapping process that Mr. Beck said “has an energetic, collaborative, inventive, and healing effect.”
What he doesn’t mention is that it make for extremely cool-looking art pieces. On July 18, the group will install its eight-plus sculptures in a corner of Elm Park in conjunction and cooperation with the Big Dipper Festival and Art in the Park, which is ongoing through October of 2015. Family Day will be held on Aug. 7, complete with performances and festivities for all to enjoy, which will be the culminating event for College Week, hosted by Becker College this year.
For the first time, this installation of Recycled Rodeo will be illuminated with thousands of LED lights, lending an exciting mystique to the display. Working with the Seven Hills students allowed for more than 700 kids, parents and faculty to participate in the creation of art pieces that reflect the school’s core values of wisdom, justice, courage, compassion, hope, respect, responsibility and integrity.
“Every student in the school has contributed to this massive work of art,” said Seven Hills Superintendent Krista Pizza, whose enthusiasm for the project and fundraising to support it were instrumental in bringing it to life. Mr. Beck also credits the generosity and support of Seven Hills art teacher Casey Hickey in making the space and time in her classroom for the project to blossom. “Students brought in everything from skateboards to garden tools, old boots and baby carriages,” Mr. Beck said.
For Mr. Beck, being a part of a project that enables kids to fully embrace the role that art can play in a community has dovetailed nicely with his own aspirations professionally. “Worcester is a place I have always wanted to work,” he said. “It’s diverse, it’s working class, it has architecture, culture. I really feel as though it is an underappreciated area of Massachusetts.”