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Student sculpture featured in "Ana's Playground"

anasplaygroundThey received fairly ambiguous instructions and a sketch showing stone slabs apparently hovering in the air. Their task: turn an artist’s vision into reality by creating a sculpture that would protect a young girl from a sniper’s shot.

This fall, the students in robert tom’s introduction to sculpture class worked to construct a fountain for the set of Ana’s Playground, a not-for-profit film about children in armed conflict. Written and directed by Eric D. Howell, “The film is intended to expose new audiences to the fact that children are being used as tools of war around the world.” (filmmakers blog)

Midway through the fall semester, tom was connected with Howell and the film’s producer through Mary Laurel True of Augsburg’s Center for Service, Work, and Learning. She had learned that the film would be shot in Cedar-Riverside and wanted to find ways for Augsburg students to be involved in the project.

Tim Bekke, Erica Malloy, Katy Lawson, Ryan Thomas, and Eric Reardon [above L to R] took Howell’s instructions: 12′ long, 6′ tall, needs to be viewed/filmed from 360 degrees, iconic male form look like he is doing a backward dive, arms extended, panels need to portray a “dissection” idea or stack of slabs. Each of the students made sketches and brought their ideas together to create the final piece. “We came up with the crescent idea to make the plates work,” Thomas said. “In the sketch, they were just floating in midair.”

The sculpture, which is composed of Styrofoam, wood, and steel pipe, is meant to be a once-working fountain that is now “dead.” In fact, the piece was constructed so that water could be sent through to the fingertips of “Oscar,” the back-diving figure on top of the fountain. Posted near the fountain, which is currently on display in the Oren Gateway Center lobby, students wrote, “After a long and exhausting challenge, this is our creative contribution to the war-torn children of the world…”

tom and the students were invited to the film set in November. “It was exciting,” Lawson said. “They created an environment that didn’t exist before.”

“It was hard to tell what was real and what was fake,” Thomas said. “There were lots of random materials that you wouldn’t expect.”

The students agreed that the experience of working in a professional setting was significant. “And we got out of two projects for the class because we made this,” said Molloy.

Ana’s Playground will be complete in May or June of 2009.

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