The River Project, a club started by photography teacher Adam Finkelstein, was created to give students a chance to experience professional art. Otherwise known as the Creative Collaboration, the club has been working all year to create an exhibition.
On May 1, 12 students’ work will be displayed in the Healthy River Partnership’s building in the West Bottoms in KCMO. The Healthy River Partnership is an organization created for river cleanups.
“One of the biggest goals of the project is to create environmental awareness,” Junior Andrew Hartnett said. “And to really find an appreciation for the beauty of the river and to preserve it.”
The debut of the students’ projects at the exhibition is invite-only. Prior to the event, people like city councilmen and journalists will be receiving those invitations. The public will then see the students’ work on May 2 at First Fridays in the Crossroads.
With a focus on allowing students to work in a variety of media, Finkelston invites kids that have many different interests from biology to art. The program is open to allow them to create scientific experiments, or displays such as videogames, and sound pieces transformed into photographs.
“It’s a way for students to interact with professionals in a wide variety of media,” Finkelston said. “It’s really open to whatever students want it to be.”
After being started three years ago, this is the first year that East recognizes Creative Collaboration as an official school club. It was given the name The River Project because its roots can be found in the Missouri River, where all participating students in the project take a field trip in the spring. They study how Kansas City was established around the river, and to see how it has created the neighborhoods around it.
“The body of work is pretty much derived from the trip,” Hartnett said.
Going to the river helps the students learn about the city as a whole. This is important because Finkelston wants to give the students inspiration for the projects that they create.
“Part of being a really good artist is understanding your context,” Finkelston said. “And where you are.”
Many of the projects are collaborative. For example, seniors James Fink, Ilana Duby, Ayana Curran-Howes and Ada Throckmorton teamed up to create a rooftop garden, containing multiple layers, and is built to sustain over a years time.
The process for the project takes a lot of sketching, thinking and understanding logistics. Finkelston encourages the students to think big, and develop their ideas since they have a year to produce their final work before the exhibition.
About 12 students are participating this year. In years past up to 25 have taken part in the project, and almost all the work is done outside the classroom.
For the next month, students will be working every weekend in the Healthy River Projects headquarters on 915 Woodswether Road. After First Fridays, the show will stay there for a couple of weeks, during which the students’ work will be judged by local artists and scientists. They will receive feedback and advice.
In the third week of May, the exhibition will be moved to the Johnson County library. From there it will be split in two. Part of the exhibit going to the Leawood Pioneer Library, the other at Oak Park, where they will be displayed all summer.