Teaching About Success, Failure Through Art

Kevin Reese's kinetic art show impresses students, teachers at Vienna Elementary

students were treated to a one-of-a-kind performance on Friday as artist Kevin Reese brought his one-man play and kinetic art show, “A Perfect Balance,” to the school.

The show aims to teach students to think outside of the box, and recognize successes in apparent failures. It culminates in the creation of a 17-foot long mobile built from the smaller mobiles Reese had been putting together throughout the play.

“It’s a play about the creative process,” Reese said. “About finding your own masterpiece.”

The D.C.-based Reese has been performing the show since 1991, and has done so all over the world. He also creates permanent fixtures, often for schools, and his work can be found in the lobbies of buildings in 23 states.

Reese cites his first introduction to kinetic art as seeing the work of Alexander Calder, the inventor of the mobile, when he was 12 years old.

Though he says the medium didn’t change his life immediately, he began building his own mobiles in college, and incorporated the play, written and directed by Mary Hall Surface.

“It’s very much hands on; It’s a very different experience than experiencing the world through Facebook,” Reese said. “There will always be that interest in reaching out. Yes, we’ll use Facebook to achieve that… but the Internet age will never replace that.”

As a pioneer in his field, Reese admits he doesn’t have much to which he can compare himself.

“I really don’t have that,” he said. “My inspiration comes from the teachers, the students. My inspiration comes from artists like Calder.”

Ken Weintraub, 9, and Camryn Frederick, 8, both third-graders at VES, were impressed by the performance.

“I didn’t expect that the big [mobile] would be balanced,” Weintraub said.

“Even if you want something to turn out, it probably won’t turn out the way you want,” added Frederick.

Vienna’s PTA chair of cultural arts, Nancy Socher, sought to find a performance that strayed from the norm and was surprised herself at what the show entailed.

“This was completely different, which is what I try to find. Hopefully the kids got the message,” Socher said. “It wasn’t anything like I expected, but I enjoyed it. I liked the message about the journey, the creativity and imagination, and you should follow your dreams to do something you want to do."


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