CHADRON – A cooperative project between the Summer Upward Bound (UB) Program and the Chadron State College Child Development Center (CDC) came to a magical conclusion Thursday morning as plush 3-D monster toys emerged from a box when only several weeks ago they had been regular two-dimensional drawings.
The project was the brainchild of Travis Hencey, who holds two CSC degrees and has been the art instructor for UB for five years. He said an Ikea promotion inspired the textile assignment. During the fall 2015 semester, Hencey completed his student teaching at Rapid City High School where his art students designed and constructed plush toys.
Last year he made a concerted effort to integrate his assignments with coursework taught by other UB instructors.
“It has so much more meaning if we are not just working in an art room by ourselves. I really like the collaboration,” Hencey said.
This year the collaboration Hencey planned was especially exciting. The toy monster project correlated to the book about childhood, “House on Mango Street,” used in English teacher Brenda Lanphear’s UB class.
To kick off his project in late May, Hencey read “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak to the CDC children to inspire them for an art class in which he they were encouraged to draw their own monsters.
Lona Downs, CDC director, said she was excited to see the venture unfold.
“The children’s imaginations ran wild, as images with sharp teeth, claws, hundreds of eyes, silly feet, and long arms appeared on the pages in front of the children. This opportunity provided children the chance to create something of their very own,” she said.
Travon Bass, UB student of Crawford, Nebraska, said he had mended his own fabric toys before but the monster, based on a drawing by CDC student Trenton Leija, was the first toy he’d ever made completely by hand.
“It was fun. I hope he likes it. He was really the artist,” Bass said.
Cherokee Parviance of Alliance said she had sewn a simple sock toy but nothing as intricate and involved as the plush monster she stitched for the project.
Parviance hopes her creation will be a happy, imaginary friend for Ryder Nixon who made the drawing she used as a pattern.
“This is something you think of doing in a home ec class rather than an art class. It was fun to use my imagination to interpret the drawing. The cool part is the kids designed the monsters and we just made them,” Parviance said.
—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator