Art for a New School
Photo mobile – to encourage integrative thinking
Roland Boehringer is a co-founder of the educational association Palette M in the Westerwald and the Template Network Germany. He helps to design new templates for cultural, social and inter-personal domains that are tailored for these times and their rapidly changing requirements. He worked for many years as a photo-designer, and his training included artistic photography at the Cologne Technical College with Professor Arno Jansen. He recently designed a mobile for a new element ary school that has been built in Raubach in the Westerwald, with the approval of the Municipality of Puderbach.
“Artistic design has its source in a basic need for beauty, harmony, value and meaning. Art wants to encourage, raise questions, convey aesthetics and trigger impulses. How can one cause these ideas to flow into a piece of artwork for an elementary school? What kind of object could one create that is up to date, modern and conveys a clear message to children? What message would be meaningful? What regional influences need to be considered? How could something be designed to still be interesting and attractive to children and teachers several years later, and that addresses as many senses as possible? Something that perhaps proposes questions that could be discussed between the children and teachers?”
This is how the idea emerged for this unusual mobile, consisting of 24 enlarged photos, which can support integrated thinking in children through visual stimulation:
- The object hangs from the ceiling at the entrance to the school, the teachers can easily gather the students to see the pictures together. The mobile consists of 7 randomly moving photo prisms that are turned by a little motor, each prism having 3 faces and an underside. The size of the pictures is 60 x 90 cm.
- The mobile is intended to connect the homeland (people, countryside, flora) with pictures of Rhineland-Palatinate/Germany/Europe via photo images. The children are led to integrated thinking which promotes togetherness rather than animosity.
- The rotating pictures provide both a relaxing and a stimulating effect in the day-to-day life of the school. There are always different picture combinations to be seen.
- Through the mix of both close up and distant photography, pastel and primary colours, the installation should continue to be attractive, even after it has been seen many times.
- It is possible to replace the pictures so that the mobile remains interesting after many years.
- It is possible to include other educational pictures, for example, people from history or photos for foreign language instruction.
- Students and teachers are invited to design the content, and as a further benefit there is an attractive feature in the entrance to the school.
Besides pictures of the local environment, which can easily be recognised by the children, the mobile also shows an aerial photograph of the school. As the school is located close to the geographical centre of the European Union (Kleinmai-schscheid), there is a picture of children with the European flag. Because many foreign children visit the school there is a photo of a Turkish and Mennonite girl. There are also photographs of animals, flowers, butterflies, the Alps, the parliament building in Berlin as well as double decker buses in London, because the children learn English. Last but not least is a picture of our planet as seen from space.
The first response to the artwork is positive all round. Perhaps this piece of art will inspire others to do something like it elsewhere.