All that once was

At Fort Dodge Middle School, students will imagine the obsolete through art experience

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Judy Perkins, a member of the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation, front, and Amanda Becker, a coordinator for the Cabinet of Obsolescence, look over the cabinet at the Fort Dodge Middle School Tuesday morning.

A rotary dial phone, a set of VHS tapes and electronic calculators are just some of the items one might find throughout the Cabinet of Obsolescence at the Fort Dodge Middle School.

The long, winding, interactive piece of art isn’t your standard-looking cabinet.

Los Angeles-based artists Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues created the piece, located in the south part of the school near the auditorium.

It contains eight cabinets as part of its curvy design. Each is a lit, glass-faced space that will be filled with objects chosen by the students when the program begins sometime in January, according to Amanda Becker, one of the coordinators for the Cabinet of Obsolescence.

In the meantime, Friends of Deardorf have been placing items in there, according to Judy Perkins, a member of the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Electronic calculators are among the items displayed in the Cabinet of Obsolescence.

Records, flip phones and an analog clock are other items placed inside the cabinet.

The art and installation were paid for by a grant from the Deardorf foundation. The foundation was established in 1993 by Catherine Deardorf. The mission of the group is to support and promote art, libraries, nature and heritage in Webster County.

No tax dollars were used, Perkins said.

For the program, Becker will be joined by Kirsten Doebel and Sara Fitzgerald in helping to expand the use of the cabinet.

Becker said the team of coordinators plan to form an after school club for students.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson A portion of the Cabinet of Obsolescence is shown here as Fort Dodge Middle School students enjoy their lunch Tuesday morning.

Those students will be able to help decide what is placed in the cabinet, she said.

Becker said the club won’t be the only involvement for students.

“We also have ideas about extending the cabinet to curriculum that happens in the classroom,” she said.

Some of those themes could include mathematics, cooking and science.

One of the goals is to get students more interested in art, Becker said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Flip phones and phone books have made their way into the Cabinet of Obsolescence at the Fort Dodge Middle School.

“The original idea we thought about is how can we get kids involved and something they encounter every day,” she said. “How do we get kids interested and excited about cultural experiences and the arts?”

She added, “I am excited about the opportunity to have our group of kids go visit the Blanden to see those other amazing things Fort Dodge has to offer that we could have in the cabinet.”

Perkins said the cabinet is a way to show students what came before.

“It’s a touchstone to know what was,” she said.

Perkins said she’s excited to see the ideas students come up with.

“It’s limitless, really,” she said. “You are only limited by your imagination.”

She added, “It’s using your imagination and what better place to tap into imagination than in the middle school.”

Artists Ball and Nogues plan to return to FDMS in January. The students will have an opportunity to meet with them at that time, Perkins said.