Arts Quincy, Moorman Foundation partner to provide sculptures for Quincy schools

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 1, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Sep. 1, 2019 12:30 am

QUINCY -- A new partnership will bring sculptures to eight Quincy schools designed to inspire both students and the community.

Arts Quincy and the Moorman Foundation expect the eight pieces to be installed by April at Quincy Public Schools' five elementary schools, Quincy Junior High School, Quincy High School and Quincy Notre Dame High School.

"Public art beautifies, unifies and inspires, and it's a terrific way to celebrate our area's commitment to its students," Arts Quincy Executive Director Laura Sievert said. "Now is the perfect time for this major public art project as Quincy's residents have really committed to the quality of our educational institutions with the construction of the new elementary schools plus significant investments and improvements at QHS, QND and QJHS."

The project, made possible by Arts Quincy's business and individual members and funded by the foundation, is meant to be a public celebration of education, which was a cornerstone of Fabiola Moorman's commitment to community betterment, and the arts.

"To pull up and see a piece of artwork out front not only advertises who we are and what we stand for but serves as a link to the greater community," said QND Principal Mark McDowell, who also serves on the Arts Quincy board. "It's a great example of how the arts community and schools can work together to make a big impact."

Work on the project began some 18 months ago when Sievert first proposed the idea of a public sculpture.

The idea grew into eight smaller sculptures instead of one large piece, and a national call drew nearly 200 submissions reviewed by a committee with representatives from Arts Quincy, the foundation and the schools.

"The community of Quincy is blessed to have an arts tradition in all the fine arts. This kind of highlights that and showcases that in each of our schools including QND," QPS Superintendent Roy Webb said.

Just as important, Webb said, the project's investment in the arts sends a message to students.

"They're placing the sculptures at their locations so they can see them and learn from them on a daily basis," Webb said. "Once again, the community of Quincy is saying children are a priority."

The selection committee blended different perspectives on art and different viewpoints, but "for the most part, in the end, the picks were unanimous," Sievert said.

Options were presented to school principals, who worked with their teams in making the final decision -- often quickly -- which means "we brought the right pieces, something that obviously resonated," Sievert said.

"The pieces we came up with are so good. Every one makes me happy. They captured the spirit of these new schools."

QHS Principal Jody Steinke immediately decided on "Vault," a sculpture by Waterloo, Iowa, artist Dan Perry of a torch with a blue flame. The flame will be internally lit, and Perry is adding a QHS "Q" logo to the pedestal of the piece which should be installed by the first week of October.

"It's one more example of Blue Devil pride -- pride in school, pride in community," Steinke said. "Quincy High is kind of a cultural community center. There's always people on campus -- I don't care what time of day or time of year -- and getting it to look the best we can is really a tribute to the community."

The piece for Sarah Atwater Denman Elementary School echoes the bird silhouettes used in the interior of the building, home of the falcons, and QND's piece featuring the school colors and core values "seemed destined to land at QND," McDowell said.

Staff and students will be involved in creating the piece for Thomas S. Baldwin Elementary School. Artist Bob Doster of Lancaster, S.C., plans to trace all their handprints onto sheet metal, cut them out and assemble the pieces into a biplane, a symbol of Baldwin's aviation history.

"The students and staff that were here for the grand opening have a little piece in history. Their handprint is going to be a little piece of history," Baldwin Principal Jim Sohn said.

"What I want as a parent is a photo of my kid standing in front of something symbolic of the place they're spending their time, meeting their friends," said Sievert, who plans to take a photo every year of her son, a brand-new kindergartner at Baldwin, by the biplane. "The ones for the two high schools we picked especially for people to say 'I'm going to take my picture in my graduation cap and gown by this.' It's an icon for the schools."

Perry's work for QHS was the only already-completed piece; the others, all commissioned works by primarily Midwestern artists, will be done over the next few months. Additional artwork installations may be possible in other spaces, including the rest of Quincy's parochial schools and other public locations, as future funding becomes available.

Student artists also have a part to play in the project by designing a medallion that represents their school for a dedication plaque to be placed at each sculpture.

One student's design will be added to the plaque and will serve as a "crayon rubbing" for a sculpture passport, which will be available for free on the Arts Quincy website,, to encourage families to visit all of the installations.

Sievert wants the sculptures to become destinations and part of a larger art walk for learning more about the art piece. Arts Quincy is commissioning a sculpture walk app, scheduled to be available by spring 2020, to provide information about each piece. "People will be able to hear the artist, in their own words, talking about the sculpture," she said.

"Part of the Arts Quincy mission is to increase access and visibility for the arts, and public art does that in a unique way," Sievert said.

These sculptures "will be an amazing legacy, an amazing impact, maybe the biggest investment in public art that Quincy ever had."

The project ties into the ongoing strategic planning effort in Quincy and the emphasis for more "placemaking" in the city.

"Cities we look up to in our region are doing those kind of investments to see a lot of public art," Sievert said.

"We hope this inspires business owners to beautify, placemark, wayfind in a lovely way that employs artists and makes the town a prettier place to live. Those things matter."


Sculpture List

Quincy High School: Artist Dan Perry of Waterloo, Iowa. "Vault." Stainless steel and aluminum featuring a lit blue torch and QHS logo.

Quincy Notre Dame High School: Artist Hilde DeBrune of Cumming, Iowa. "Reaching for the Sky." Stainless featuring QND logo and school core principles.

Thomas S. Baldwin Elementary School: Artist Bob Doster of Lancaster, S.C. "Flyers." Stainless steel student and faculty handprints assembled into a biplane.

Sarah Atwater Denman Elementary School: Artist Fritz Olsen of Sawyer, Mich. "Taking Flight." Stainless steel featuring birds in flight.

Dr. Abby Fox Rooney Elementary School: Artist Timothy Jorgensen of Windsor, Wis., Untitled at this time. Stainless steel and aluminum featuring three large leaf-life pieces stacked with pops of color throughout. Inspired by the school mascot, the foxes, and the woodland architectural elements.

Col. George J. Iles Elementary School: Artist Timothy Jorgensen of Windsor, Wis. "Red Tails." Stainless steel featuring an aeronautically-inspired design meant to bring to mind the red tailed planes of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Lincoln-Douglas Elementary School: Details for this piece, which is inspired by the school's architectural and thematic elements, are being finalized. More information, including a rendering and artist information, will be available on the Arts Quincy website,, in about a week.

Quincy Junior High School: Piece has not been finalized, but will be comet-inspired to echo the school's mascot.