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Academy Grad Students Design Doris Dillon Memorial Project

The Academy of Art University has always been especially committed to finding ways for students to contribute to the community while expanding their real-world experience.  The recent involvement of Academy students with the Almaden Library and Community Center is an example of this lasting tradition of community involvement at the Academy of Art University.

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Last spring, the San Jose Public Art Commission commissioned an Academy of Art University graduate seminar class, Site Specific Public Art, to create a public sculpture for the new Almaden Library and Community Center.  The students were assigned three basic directives, the first and primary objective being the commemoration of the teachings of beloved teacher and community member, Doris Dilon.  The project also had to be built and installed for a budget of $45,000 within a two-semester time frame.  In addition, the memorial had to fulfill a specific function as a reading place outside of the front entry to the library.

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The students in the seminar met with members of the community, had a tour of the site with the architect, met with landscape designers, and then worked collaboratively to create three proposals which were presented to the community and reviewed by the Public Art Commission. Based on this feedback from the community and the commission, a final design direction emerged and a revised proposal was made and accepted.  Over the summer the students and their instructor, architect and public artist Donna Schumacher, moved the project toward production with the goal of breaking ground later this semester.

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The Doris Dillon Memorial Project will consist of a circular seating area with ten stones placed in the surrounding landscape. The fourteen foot diameter granite bench will enclose a level area, perfect for reading to a small group of children under the shade of the surrounding trees.   The stones will be large granite boulders (two to five feet across) which are low enough for children to sit or stand on safely.  Each stone is inscribed with words from one of the parts of speech which can be used to create a sentence. Children will be encouraged to take rubbings from each of the stones, to create sentences of their own.   The words chosen and carved into the stones are collected directly from Doris’ history so that they serve as a subtle echo of her life.   As such the project will serve as a reading area, a place to daydream, a place to learn through play or simply as a good spot to wait for a ride home.

Currently the students on this project are David Whippen, Paul Harmon, and David Duskin. They expect to begin building the memorial in about a month and to have the work finished later this year.

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