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Students get SMART on transportation sculpture

WHS students create art project with teacher and local artist


by: PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER SHOTOLA-HARDT - WHS students Yovani Vidal and Armando Lopez worked on El Viento from concept to installation.The city of Wilsonville gained a new piece of art last week, thanks to a collaboration between transit provider SMART, local artist Jesse Swickard and student artists working at Wilsonville High School under the direction of teacher Christopher Shotola-Hardt.

A 15-foot sculpture, El Viento, is made of stainless steel with six aluminum panels with decals made from Shotola-Hardt’s original artwork as well as bronze ball bearings, designed by Swickard, that allow the panels to move. It was installed Jan. 13 at SMART headquarters at 28879 Boberg Road.

“When we were building this building we had always envisioned some kind of community art that would be here, like there is over at the station and at city hall and all over town. We always knew there would be something here but we didn’t know what,” SMART Program Manager Jen Massa Smith said.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF DANNY ABREGO / CITY OF WILSONVILLE - Painter Christopher Shotola-Hardt, left, and sculptor Jesse Swickard worked together to create the kinetic sculpture.Although SMART staff considered commissioning a piece from a local artist, another option presented itself: working with local schools. SMART set a precedent for that kind of partnership with the recent Beauty and the Bridge project at the Interstate 5 highway underpass and the ongoing SMART art project.

“We started talking with Christopher Shotola-Hardt and he had some ideas and some students in mind that would like to help with the project,” Massa Smith said. “He also wanted to work with Jesse.”

A small group formed and began brainstorming themes for a collaborative project.

“We wanted it to be transportation-related, of course, and (Swickard and Shotola-Hardt) wanted it to be a real-life learning experience for the students,” Massa Smith said.

Shotola-Hardt selected two students, Yovani Vidal and Armando Lopez, and arranged for them to receive school credit for taking part in the project.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF DANNY ABREGO / CITY OF WILSONVILLE - Wilsonville High School student Yovani Vidal (right) helps Wilsonville Public Works Department employee Ivan Crumrine place a panel featuring Wilsonvilles century-old Methodist Church on El Viento.As the two students and the two professional artists worked together, the project began to take shape. Shotola-Hardt is a painter and Swickard is a sculptor, and the piece showcases both their talents.

“Christopher and I had several different meetings at SMART, trying to develop a concept,” Swickard said. “During one of our visits, we were looking at artwork on one of the SMART buses and we had this cool idea: What if we take original paintings and put them into decals, like the bus wraps? Christopher and I sort of ‘light bulbed’ — we had no idea how it would work.”

Shotola-Hardt created six original paintings for the project. The paintings include depictions of historical Wilsonville markers, transportation themes and, Swickard said, “a little nature to give it balance.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The sculpture has decals of six original paintings by Shotola-Hardt, depicting scenes from Wilsonville history and incororating transportation and nature scenes.The completed paintings were scanned into a digital format and sent to a local decal maker, Gillespie Graphics. Turning the images into decals gave them permanence, Swickard said.

“It made it way more permanent,” he said. “It took Gillespie and their involvement, which was amazing. They donated all their services for the project.”

That donation was crucial, Swickard said, since the project worked on an extremely tight budget.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A new scultpture, El Viento, is on display at SMART headquarters in Wilsonville. Here sculptor Jesse Swickard, far left, gets help installing the piece from Wilsonville Public Works and SMART employees. Working with the students, Swickard began creating different concepts for the sculpture that Swickard would fabricate.

“The two students developed several different models as their project. Part of the project was having the students involved as much as they could, wherever they could,” he said. “They are very talented kids.”

The finished piece is a compromise between the students’ models and the realities of the site where the piece was installed Jan. 13. Lopez and Vidal were set free to create models within the project’s design parameters.

“Based on the idea that it would be kinetic, they built some models,” Swickard said. The first few models were built out of straws and were, he said, crude.

“The last model that was built was very impressive,” he said. “They had several different concepts for how the wind would drive, where they would put it in front of a fan and test the flaps that would catch the wind. ... Based on that, I had to take that new information that we all had and make it work in real life as a sculpture.”

The students’ involvement did not end with the design phase.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A 15-foot kinetic sculpture, El Viento, was installed Jan. 13 at SMART headquarters on Boberg Road. The name is Spanish for the wind. Here, sculptor Jesse Swickard, far left, guides Wilsonville Public Works and SMART employees as they mount the piece on a concrete pad. “They were helping install the sculpture and they were instruments in figuring out how the decals would go through the bolting hardware,” Swickard said. “They actually solved one problem we had during installation. The decals had to be cut and pierced. They were very precise and took their time,” freeing Swickard and Shotola-Hardt to attend to other aspects of the installation.

“It was exciting for all of us in different ways,” Massa Smith said. “The students got to see a real-life community art project from beginning to end. They got to see the good and the challenges and the excitement.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Jesse Swickard, a local sculptor, collaborated with the two WHS students and their teacher to create El Viento.The piece is available for viewing at SMART headquarters. Massa Smith said that it will be added to the “sculpture by bike” tour that SMART hosts every summer during the city’s arts festival.

Kate Hoots can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow her on Twitter: @CommuniKater.




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