Musical Message

Artist: Ravenswood Elementary School Engineering Club
Location: Ravenswood Ave and Montrose Ave, NE corner (west side of the tracks)
Materials: PVC pipe, spray paint, vinyl, wood
Dimensions: 5 ft
Installation Date: May 19, 2022

Project Details

In early 2022, teachers at Ravenswood Elementary contacted the Ravenswood Community Council (RCC) to share news about an art project being developed by the school’s Engineering Club. The students were looking for temporary exhibition space for a small project. The piece was an adapted version of their plans, which were for a two-sided, free-standing musical instrument.

Instead, RCC funded the purchase of supplies to fulfill the students original vision! Then, RCC requested funding from Special Service Area #31 to install the piece as a part of the Ravenswood Sculpture Garden. A true community effort, Musical Message is located at the entrance to the Montrose Metra Community Gardens, whose leaders embraced the opportunity to host the sculpture and support student artists. RCC also got an assist from Blind Love artists John Airo and Brant McCrea, who helped with installation.

View on Public Art map

Sponsors: Ravenswood Community Council, Montrose Metra Community Gardens, Special Service Area #31

Special Thanks: John Airo, Brant McCrea

From the student artists and engineers of the Ravenswood Elementary School Engineering Club:

"In our 8th grade content classes, we learned about wave technology. We also learned about people being divided and climate change. We created a mini pan flute instrument and applied wave technology to it. This inspired us to create an art piece in our Engineering Club that we would then use to try and make a difference in our community.  We designed a PVC musical instrument with a message!  This message included not just the issue of dividedness but other conflicts that impact our daily lives. We listened to our community members and learned about ways the world has also been hurt." 

"We came up with four key issues happening in our world, which include Dividedness, Animosity, Stress, and Climate Change. We were motivated to help out others with problems, or stressors that might be hard for us to control. We want all people to have the opportunity to play music and forget about that bag of coal they’ve been wearing, and make them start picking up gold.  Forgetting about all their worries for at least a little bit of time. 

Our response to these stressors can be seen on the opposing side. Including: Acts of Random Kindness, Play, Inclusion and Greener Future. These sides of the pipes are positive responses to the negative influences found on the other side. We are trying to bring motivation, and positivity to our community. We are trying to make people’s day a bit brighter and let them know how they can turn on the light when it’s dark. If someone is having a bad day, we just want them to know that the day isn’t over and it will get better. They can play music if they’re stressed out to calm them down."

"We designed this instrument with sustainability in mind.  We started with measuring the main support legs, and cut them to the length we wanted which was 80 inches.  We then built our A-frame by attaching the 2x4’s together with strap hinges.  Connecting these with decking boards to create the structure of our musical instrument.  Once we built our frame we got to work on our PVC pipes.  We spray painted them with intent, on our stressor sides we choose colors that evoked a negative response; the same on our action side, these colors created ease and pushed us to feel more at peace.  We adhered our pipes to the A-frame and then connected our paddles. Use the paddles and ENJOY!"

About the Artists

I love to convey messages through what I make and/or what I draw; my message on the pipes is about the environment, and the whole journey was amazing and I would definitely do it again.” – Nicolas Cummings

Some of the reasons I joined Ms. Barran, and Mr. Cordes’s Engineering Club was because I wanted to learn more about engineering. Engineering is an interesting topic for me. I also wanted to collaborate with others. I wanted to build something for my community.” – Vianney Perez

I decided to join the Engineering Club because we are able to use our creativity and build an instrument that is able to help educate people of Chicago about issues around the world.” – Farida Muhammad Qasim

I love to spend time in nature and with my family. My dad and I love to play Tennis with each other. So when I heard about this project I liked the sound of it and decided to join.” – Jack Bloom

I wanted to join the Engineering Club because I wanted to take part in a fun environment with my friends and build something with our creativity, giving positive messages to people.” – Daniella Xu

My favorite part of joining the engineering club was spray painting the PVC pipes.” – Madina Yahya

I really enjoyed building the  PVC musical instrument.” – Aziyah Griffin

So far this club is going really really well and it’s really fun.” – Martinaye Floyd

The reason I chose to join Engineering Club is because creating a pipe instrument sounded fun to make. I also wanted to help build something that would help people feel better and more relieved from issues and problems that could be causing them stress.” – Paco Sanchez

I joined the Engineering Club because I like to build stuff and work together.” – Sunita Pate

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