The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The Aliens Among Us

The stories behind two Parker art installations uncovered
The+Aliens+Among+Us
Photo credit: Harry Lowitz

There is plenty of art at Parker, stapled to bulletin boards, hanging in hallways, and decorating classrooms. Most of the art does not seem to veer from the kind of art you would expect to find at a school. However, there are some pieces that just can’t go unnoticed. Standing eerily on either side of the cafeteria doors in the courtyard, The Aliens are irrefutably an example of striking art at Parker.

Both are around five feet tall and have oxidized to a dull shade of green. The one on the right looks like a large hood growing out of the base. The base is lumpy and is not dissimilar to a melted candle. If you look closely you can see that on the neck of the statue coming from the mound and leading to the hood, there is a crack. If you look closer still and take the time to gaze under the hood, you will see five poles pressed against the back and side of it. The pillars look seed-like, the centers of each widened by a hole like you would a piece of clay. Each is painted black at each end, and in each hole a layer of white and then blue. The centermost pillar has two holes as opposed to one. 

The statue on the right is no simpler, the base beginning with three spheres stacked on top of each other decreasing in size. A bowl the same size as the third sphere continues the sculpture, and from the bowl a braid-like shape emerges. The “braid” widens until it meets another sphere that’s larger than the others. The sphere has two holes about halfway deep through the bronze, as if it is staring at the opposing statue.

“Emerging Forms 1 and 2,” commonly known as the Courtyard Bronzes or Aliens, are definitely on the weirder side of Parker’s art. Meant to be a part of the courtyard’s sculpture garden, they are placed at the base of either staircase to enhance visual symmetry. Parker art teacher Kay Silva, who teaches Sculpture in the Upper School, describes them as “mid-century modern abstract,” and said that “their placement on the two sides that frame the entry to the building from the courtyard [makes] them like ‘sentry’ figures.” 

According to Kate Tabor, a seventh grade English teacher who had her students research  art at Parker, the statues were made by Paul Zakoin, a French photographer, painter, and sculptor, in 1965 and 1968. His work has found a permanent home in the Art Institute of Chicago and Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington D.C.. As the name Courtyard Bronzes suggests both are made out of bronze. Sadly, in 2007 while the school was under construction to build the fourth floor, workers accidentally broke the neck of the left statue. It had to be welded back together, leaving a crack that’s still visible today.

The statues are definitely abstract, and are not to the taste of everyone. On one side you have Rob Denien,  Middle and Lower School choir teacher who appreciates the statues. “They’re a little strange to look at,” he said, “but I like that there’s art in the school.” The statues remind Denien of a nose and ear. 

On the other hand, there is freshman Ayla Pressman who said that, “They’re kinda pointless…I don’t think they’re useful.” 

Other people are more neutral about their opinions like security officer Gregory Pines and fourth grader Thea Mack. Pines said that, “They look old, but not too old for taste…they’re okay.”

Mack said she thinks “they’re interesting. They kinda look random.” When asked whether or not she likes them, she said, “Yeah, sure.”

Principal Dan Frank believes having art at Parker is so essential. “Art is a fundamental way that people give imaginative expression to their lived experiences,” he said. “[It] offers both the artist and the beholders of art a variety of ways to interpret and present beauty.” Even though not everyone in the Parker community agrees that the statues are beautiful, they do encourage discussion inside the school, and that’s what all good art does, gets people to think about it.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ellery Singer, Staff Writer
Ellery Singer, creative Staff Writer for the Parker Weekly, enjoys binge watching Friday Night Lights or reading something by S. E. Hinton. When she's not watching or reading you can probably find her on the fencing strip listening to the Goblin album by Tyler the Creator.