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June 17, 2021

UM student project adds music wall at Child Study Center

Children at the University of Montevallo’s Child Study Center will be able to make their own music on the center’s playground when they return from summer, thanks to an innovative project completed by UM alumna Katharine Murray ’20 and her faculty mentor Tanner Young.

Murray, a member of the University’s TRIO McNair Scholars program who earned a bachelor’s degree in art from UM last year, and Young, assistant professor of art, celebrated the ribbon cutting for the interactive art music wall on May 22.

The wall received financial support from the UM Green Fund and McNair Scholars program, and was constructed using recycled materials Murray collected from Child Study Center parents, including pots and pans, old grills, baking pans and more.

“I wanted to make something that was equal parts sculpture and play thing. I had previously made a sculpture out of pieces of a drum kit and a critique I kept running into was people wanted to play with it. I didn’t design it to be durable in that way. This led me to the question, but what if I did?” said Murray, who began working on the project when she was still a student at UM before its completion was delayed by COVID-19. “I researched artists like Isamu Noguchi and John Cage, studying both ideas of playground art and sound art. It was a lot of experimentation with forms and the sounds each material made. The process for how to make it changed and evolved as problems like sustainability and structure stability needed to be solved. My mentor Professor Tanner Young played a great role in helping me problem-solve and execute the project.”

In addition to providing a fun and interactive way to make music during playtime, the art music wall’s sustainability aspect will also help teach children the importance of conserving and recycling the planet’s resources, Murray said.

“I’m excited for the children to experience free play and music making at the same time. I think having a piece of nontraditional playground equipment will encourage creativity,” she said. “I hope the children enjoy it!”