The Imagination Monster Project: PJHS and Children’s of Mississippi join forces

Art students at Pearl Junior High School (PJHS) recently partnered with the Children’s of Mississippi Hospital to build 3D human-sized sculptures of monster drawings created by patients. At the helm of this unique project was Vashti Graham, a sixth-grade art fundamentals teacher at PJHS. This was the first collaboration of its kind, and all told, there were over 300 art students who participated.

The original concept came from the Mississippi College (MC) Art Education Program, where Vashti Graham had been a student. She, along with her classmates, visited Batson Children's Hospital and met with nine patients who had agreed to participate in the project. Unfortunately, due to complications arising from COVID-19, the project had to be scrapped.

When Graham became a teacher at PJHS this past fall, she decided the project was worth a second try, and with MC’s permission, Graham completed as a teacher what she began as a student. Graham, having already fabricated the set of four rainbow sculptures and the red pizza creature with Leo the dog at MC, was able to guide her sixth-grade art students to complete the pink girl, the butterfly, and the four-armed blue sculpture.

Graham then asked three other middle school art teachers to join the project. Cathryn Beck's seventh grade students completed the three headed monster that was started at MC. Sara Hall's eighth grade students completed the American superhero and party man. Kacee Hobson's creative project class completed the rainbow cloud. Eventually, the fanciful three-dimensional creations became a gallery on wheels at Batson Children’s Hospital where the sculptures are currently on display.

As for the students participating in the unique collaboration, Graham says, "They enjoyed being able to put their own twist and style on the projects. They liked that they had the ability to make another child feel loved and supported."

Members of the UMMC Child Life Specialist Team, from left, Michelle Chambers, Courtney Easterday, Pepper Weed-Cooper, Morgan Flournoy, Madeline Wilson, Tiffany Key, Cara Williams, Ashley Prendez, Erinn Funches and Kelsey Clark prepare for an art walk at the Batson Tower featuring life-size sculptures of patient's artwork Wednesday, May 19, 2021. The hand-made sculptures were made by Pearl Junior High art students

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