Re[CREATE]Ed Spaces with Peck Elementary: Fractal Seats and the Arts

Photo by SWF Artist-in-Residence, Jordan Campbell

Photo by SWF Artist-in-Residence, Jordan Campbell

On Saturday, February 24th, more than 40 educators participated in Sweet Water Foundation’s Fractal Seating Workshop at the Smart Museum of Art.


The workshop focused on the notion of claiming space and exercising the means of doing so with one’s own hands. At the workshop’s end, educators were challenged to use the skills and concepts they learned to re-create the educational spaces they interact with on a regular basis and to model the practice of using simple resources to reclaim space to their students.


From Workshop to the Classroom:

Persida Contreras, a K-4 music teacher at Peck Elementary School, was inspired by the workshop and took the challenge to heart. Ms. Contreras brought two of the fractal seats she helped to create back to her classroom and began using them to reclaim space with her students. A single fractal seat became the space on which Ms. Contreras would sit to demonstrate how to play instruments. Stacked, the fractal seats were the perfect height for a child to place an instrument (such as a keyboard or xylophone). Tops off, fractal seats became storage and a means to transport instruments.


From Classroom to Stage:

On Thursday, May 10, 2018, Ms. Contreras took the concept outside of the music room and onto an outdoor stage for the 2018 Peck Elementary Mother’s Day Performance. The students of Peck Elementary School sang, danced, and played instruments for a jam-packed audience of families in celebration of Mother’s day. When it was time for her students to perform, the stage was transformed by the Fractal Seats. The fractals allowed students to easily play their instruments - as seats and tables to place their instruments on throughout the performance.


Coming Full Circle:

On Friday, May 18, the vision of the Fractal Seating Workshop came full circle when Ms. Contrera’s students performed at Smart Museum of Art.


Their performance at the Smart was followed by a trip to Sweet Water Foundation where they ate lunch, toured the Perry Ave Commons, and gave a brief performance in the Thought Barn. During the tour, students came to understand how Sweet Water Foundation uses not only the arts, but science, technology, engineering, and math to bring projects like the Fractal Seats to life. The children were excited to see the Fractal Seats used in a variety of ways across the Commons. Since the seats were so familiar to the students, they were immediately engaged and felt like they were a part of Sweet Water Foundation. The afternoon ended with the students performing a mini-concert on the fractal seats in the Thought Barn for the staff and local residents of Sweet Water Foundation.

We look forward to their next performance during Family Day at the Smart Museum of Art on Saturday, June 2nd!

Jia Li Pratt