Riverdale News & Stories
For more than a week in October, a 12-foot-high cube on Jones Lawn became a community canvas. Students painted on the walls. Middle Schoolers contributed squares for a mosaic. Faculty, parents, and visitors wrote their wishes on multicolored tags, which hung from the structure and fluttered in the breeze.
Creativity, meaning, purpose, and community found expression here. Then the cube was gone. The point was not the art itself, but the experience.
Conceived by Scott Cohen, the Life Cube Project started at the Burning Man arts festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada in 2011. Cohen's idea was to encourage communities to express their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. He believed that by recording these ideas, one could make them happen. At Burning Man, the Life Cube actually burned in the end, giving powerful symbolism to the process.
Cohen then took the Life Cube Project to Las Vegas, where community groups and schools participated in wish-thinking, goal-setting, and creative expression. Local television news covered the Life Cube's fiery demise.
Antoinette Quarshie, the organizer of the annual Middle School Community Day, knew about Cohen's work because he is the parent of Riverdale graduate. She invited him and his wife, Madeleine, to the school for a two-week experience tied into the Middle School's theme of "breaking borders."
Cohen talked with the Middle School about the project at two assemblies during the first week, and then set about leading a group of volunteers and staff members in the construction. During the week of Oct. 17, students worked on the cube in art classes and on their own. Satellite cubes were created for other campus locations.
Riverdale never planed to burn this Life Cube — fire regulations would not permit it on the school's campus — but it was to be an attraction at the Riverdale Reunion/Homecoming on Oct. 22. Cold, rainy weather subdued the impact, and the Life Cube came to a quiet end on the following day. What remained was the Riverdale community, that much stronger.
To learn more about the Life Cube Project, go to the following:
- A video of Scott Cohen speaking at a Riverdale Middle School Assembly
- An article by Scott Cohen on Medium describing the Life Cube Project