End product is park benches at downtown retail storefronts, six students’ art selected to incorporate in bench design

Lutsen, Minnesota-based metal artist Tom Christiansen, working one-on-one with a Pelican Viking elementary student.

Visiting artist Tom Christensen was at Pelican Rapids elementary school for a two day workshop working with our 3rd-6th grade students, May 6-7. 

The end result will be three, one of a kind, artistic park benches for downtown Pelican Rapids.  The city qualified for about $18,800 in grants to create the bronze benches.  The project is being spearheaded by Kate Martinez, Pelican Viking Elementary School art teacher, and member of the city’s parks and recreation board. 

The students each interviewed one community member about living in the Pelican Rapids area and worked on drawing their profile with metal artist Christiansen, from Lutsen, Minnesota. He also delivered a presentation about  metal casting. Six designs will be selected to cast into 3 benches for downtown Pelican.  

Artist Christiansen also presented information on metal art to classroom students at Pelican Rapids Viking Elementary.

All drawings regardless if they were selected will be displayed downtown to show our community pride, noted Martinez. 

“The main goal is empowering our young student artists and pride for our community,” said Martinez. “I couldn’t be more thrilled for our elementary students to have this experience and collaborate with such a well known artist and see their drawings actually become public art.”

The benches will be located in front of Strand Hardware, Pelican Drug and Pelican Pizza.   

In October, probably during the Pelican Oktoberfest celebration, there will be a reception at the library and a walk downtown to see the community benches. The six student artists whose drawings were selected will have their name on plaques next to the benches showing their work. 

Art teacher Kate Martinez is pictured with the six students who won the design contests for the “public art park bench project. 1. 5th grader Yasmin Rodriguez Lopez drew her dad Enrique Rodriguez 2. 3rd grader Hodoayan Mahdi created her aunt Yurub Ali 3. 5th grader Kimberly Rodriguez Lopez drew her mom Beatrize Lopez 4. 4th grader Kegan Thach drew his dad Kevin Thach 5. 6th grade student Mariah Weishair drew her grandpa Kim Weishair 6. 6th grader Grace Backstrom drew her mom Amanda Backstrom
Pelican Rapids Viking Elementary students, posing with their artwork–and artist Tom Christiansen and Mayor Brent Frazier.