\r\nStudent Spirit is Behind the Sum of Its Parts for FIGMENT NYC Art Fest\r\nBy Mike Salmon\r\nALEXANDRIA, VA-It\u2019s a square called the \u201cSum of Its Parts,\u201d when it\u2019s all pieced together, but when separated, the individual pieces are each a piece of foam furniture. This is the vision of Luke Rumage and Randa Malkawi, two architecture students in Alexandria who dared think outside the box and have now been invited to the FIGMENT art festival in New York City to show off their idea and get the energy from thousands of other artists and like-minded people.\r\nRumage and Malkawi are Virginia Tech students in Alexandria, finishing up their architecture degrees at the innovation campus on Prince Street. \u201cWe\u2019re the only participants from here,\u201d added Malkawi.\r\n\r\nThere are obstacles though, like doing this while finishing up architectural school, holding down jobs in Alexandria and fundraising the $2,000 in one month for their trip. Oh yes, they need the materials to build their invention, buy or make weather proof covering, and borrow or rent a truck to transport it - gas, tolls and everything. Easy, right? Oh, they don\u2019t know how to sew either so they\u2019ll have to learn that too, all before the last day in May because they have to be there June 1.\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re trying to locally source everything,\u201d said Rumage.\r\n\r\nSums It Up\r\nThe cube will be five feet by five feet when put together, but when apart it is several chairs and seating blocks that they are convinced children will use \u2013 although it\u2019s for the outdoors, and if you believe the vision today\u2019s society has for children, they\u2019re all inside playing computer games. No one is outside anymore.\r\nThat\u2019s not going to stop Luke and Randa though. \u201cThe idea was to make it fun and playful so that anybody could use it,\u201d Rumage said. Problems they encountered ranged from covering material, composure and all the different types of foam out there. \u201cYou solve one problem and another five show up,\u201d Rumage said.\r\nGetting to New York City with their project, ready for its public debut, is an obstacle for two idealistic students with little money and no outside support, but they are looking for help from their families. \u201cWe\u2019re getting there,\u201d said Malkani.\r\n\r\nThe SIP is not exactly architecture, but sort of, and what they\u2019ve learned in grad school has helped them so far. Luke started a similar idea a few years earlier, and it\u2019s grown from there. This spring, Randa worked with the City of Alexandria on the Virginia Tech memorial bench for Chinquapin Park on upper King Street, and that made its debut in late April. \u201cIt\u2019s designed and constructed by students,\u201d she said. The bench is a memorial for the Virginia Tech students that were killed by a gunman in 2008. She worked with Ryan Pieper, a professor from Tech. \u201cIt was part of our class,\u201d she said.\r\nThey\u2019ve launched a Go Fund Me page called \u201cConstructing Seating Solution for Figment NYC,\u201d and they\u2019re waiting for the total to grow.\r\n\r\nFIGMENT\r\nFIGMENT is a free participatory arts event that celebrates creativity by challenging artists and participants to find new ways to create, share, and dream. FIGMENT NYC will take place on Roosevelt Island at Lighthouse Park. It\u2019s loosely connected to pop artist Andy Warhol, who reportedly wanted the word \u201cFigment,\u201d on his tombstone when he died. FIGMENT NYC is supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, as well as by the Fund for Creative Communities, according to FIGMENT information. There are FIGMENT events in Boston and Toronto that weekend as well.\r\nSchool ended for Rumage and Malkawi on May 6, and they will put more time into their project, using the wood shop at the school in Old Town to hone their masterpiece.