Tag: sculpture

May Inspiration

Last month I was largely inspired by performances and stories…

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1. Movie: Big Eyes

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2. Documentary/Exhibition: Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

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3. Musical Performance: Banda Magda

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4. Joseph Marr’s sugar sculptures

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5. Kurt Pio’s diamond paintings

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6. Karen Schwartz’s abstract paintings

Links: 1/2/3/4/5/6

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Art Lesson: Clay Animal Bowls

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When I was teaching after school gifted art, the most challenging lesson that my students and I did involved clay. I’m no expert when it comes to clay, but it is so much fun to use. So anyway, the theme for gifted art this year was identity and portraiture. For the clay lesson, we made animal bowls (pinch pots became the body of an animal and we attached the rest of the body parts to the bowl). We talked about the personality traits of different animals and then I instructed the students to choose an animal that they related to in terms of personality traits. We made the bowls with red clay, painted them with matte acrylics, and then added a layer of gloss sealer on top. The students did such a great job (although two animals did lose their tails in the process):

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Monkey: humor, athleticism

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Golden Retriever: loyalty, intelligence

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Lion: leadership, strength

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Bear: optimism, loyalty

Cute right?? My pink and gold bear is currently sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to put something in it. Thanks for reading :]

 

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From the Vault: Rubber Band Installation

I’m in the process of working on things that I can’t share just yet, but I wanted to continue posting on here in the meantime. I was looking through some old artwork of mine and I thought I would share some of the pieces. Enjoy! :]

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This is an art installation made up of over 1000 rubber bands and some wire. I was so sick of the smell by the end, but I really liked the final project. This was my first project for a 3D design class I took back in my second semester of college (2010).DSC01678

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A Whole New World Part IV

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This time last year, I was preparing to go back to JMU for my semester of student teaching and I was beyond nervous. At this point, I was really hoping that I would enjoy it and not suddenly discover that this wasn’t something I wanted to do because it took so much work to get here and it was going to take a lot of work to get through it. So yeah, that was kind of my mindset going in. Not the best one, I admit, but it is what it is.

My semester of student teaching consisted of two 8-week placements. My first placement was at a high school about 30 minutes away. Let me just tell you that my high school experience was fine as a teenager, but I was definitely not excited about going back, even as a teacher. I don’t want to make this too long so I’ll attempt to briefly summarize my time there. I co-taught and taught multiple Art I classes, Art II, Art III (which focused on 3D art), and Art IV. I had a great cooperating teacher to work with who was a practicing artist, used all his resources, got the students quality supplies, and was great to talk to about lots of things, including art. The students were great, but often very unmotivated or troubled by things going on outside of school, so that was a challenge. I also unfortunately noticed that at this school, art was overall not considered a necessary part of the curriculum and so the students generally shared that perspective. Finally, it was winter, so there were plenty of snow days which constantly changed my plans. Here is a list of some of the things I learned at this placement:

  1. Don’t assume that all students have basic skills (I had to spend quite a bit of time showing students how to use a ruler, for example)
  2. You have to spend time proving to the students that they are in a safe place where all questions or comments are welcome and everyone is free to speak, even if they don’t have the “right” answer. This is so challenging because a lot of students seem to become paralyzed by the fear of being wrong or made fun of by their peers.
  3. Things usually don’t go as planned so prepare as much as possible. Include a note in your lesson plan for what to do if students finish early and what to do if students don’t finish in time.
  4. Grading is really hard. Some students worked really hard, but their technique was consistently pretty rough. Other students were very talented in art, but did not take the class seriously and often exhibited laziness and a lack of interest.

Being in this classroom was really eye-opening and I thought of a lot of things that I would do differently the second time around in my own classroom. Here are some images from the lessons I taught. Some of the lessons were very successful and some weren’t as great, but they all taught me a lot and I was able to see what worked and what didn’t.

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 I could go on about my high school experience, but let’s move on to my second placement. For my second and last placement, I actually went to two elementary schools each week. My cooperating teacher worked at one school Monday-Wednesday and another school Thursday and Friday, and I followed her where she went. She was a big help and so enthusiastic about art and teaching. I was more excited about teaching at an elementary school because I have a better connection with younger kids and it didn’t seem as intimidating.

There was a lot less down time in elementary school because the classes were 30-45 minutes each and often back-to-back. It was definitely a challenge to stay on top of things. It was harder to learn names and observe each student because there were so many of them. I got to repeat my lessons several times, which allowed me to tweak them along the way, but it was also tiresome to repeat lessons that turned out to be just okay. The volume of work produced was much greater, and that gave me a better idea of how effective my teaching was.

In terms of discussion, the elementary students were the opposite of the high schoolers. While it took a lot of effort to get a peep out of the older kids, all hands would go up when I asked a question in the elementary classrooms. The younger students were eager to share their ideas and tell their stories and that was one of my favorite parts about working with them. They were very enthusiastic about their work and weren’t afraid to show it. Again, here are some things I learned during my elementary placement:

  1. Be cautious about providing lesson examples because some students will try to copy it, and we want to encourage them to come up with a new idea.
  2. Come up with some kind of signal to get the students’ attention, especially during lessons that require moving around to different stations.
  3. It’s often a better idea to show students what not to do instead of what they should be doing. For example, demonstrate a sloppy printmaking job so the students know to avoid putting too much ink on their block.

I really enjoyed teaching in an elementary school in spite of a lot of challenges. Here are a few images from some of the lessons I taught:

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I came out of student teaching alive, relieved, and ready to teach in my own classroom. The new challenge was to find that classroom, but more on that in the future :] Thanks for reading!

A Whole New World Part I
A Whole New World Part II
A Whole New World Part III

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Conjoined Twins Project

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This time last year, I was taking my first sculpture class at JMU. Sculpture is super intimidating for me, but I really surprised myself with the work I did in that class. I mentioned this in a previous post about my sculpture class, but the theme of our final project was conjoined twins. We were free to make basically any kind of sculpture that related to this topic. My professor encouraged us to do a lot of research and explore all possibilities. We scheduled one-on-one meetings with him to discuss our findings and ideas.

I did a bit of research on conjoined twins in general and learned that there are many different types of conjoined twins. One type that particularly caught my interest was parasitic twins. Parasitic twins occur when twins begin developing, but don’t fully separate, and one of the twins becomes dominant at the expense of the other twin. The parasitic twin is therefore severely undeveloped and often does not resemble another human at all, rather, extra body parts. The word “parasite” has such a negative connotation and that’s what I wanted to base my project on. I didn’t want to make something that parasitic twins would actually wear or use, I wanted to create a statement piece. My idea was to alter a jacket to fit grown parasitic twins if they were to make it into adulthood. I wanted to add a cage to the front to reflect the negative connotation of the term “parasitic” and to communicate a feeling of shame and embarrassment.

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I have very limited experience in altering fabric, so this project was definitely a challenge. I got most of my supplies from Goodwill over Thanksgiving break: a wool coat, two belts, a patterned skirt, and a red button-up shirt (which I ended up not using because of time limitations). The first thing I had to do once I had my supplies was to create the cage. I created the cage by cutting a few rods of steel, bending them, and then welding them together.I added an extra horizontal rod at the top of the cage to hold a “curtain” that I cut from the patterned skirt. The pattern on the skirt was a cluster of black leaves on a white background. I chose this pattern as a reference to Adam and Eve covering themselves with leaves out of shame after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. In the case of this project, the leaves are used to hide the parasitic twin out of shame.

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With the cage completed, I was able to figure out how to attach it to the coat. Because of my lack of practice doing this kind of work, my method was pretty crude. I did a lot of “guesstimating” and hoped that it would end up close to how I envisioned. I cut out most of the front of the wool coat and then sewed one side to the cage using thick red embroidery thread. I used the color red not only for unity because the coat itself has red in it, but I also used it to emphasize the sense of invasion. I attached two belt buckles to the other side of the coat, which then fastened to the ends of the belts that I sewed onto one bar of the cage. I’m happy to report that it turned out really nicely–in fact, it exceeded my expectations. The only problem was that the end product was a bit too large when I modeled it, which took away from the effect. Other than that, I was really happy with it and so was my professor.

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Have you ever created wearable sculpture art? Let me know about your experience in the comments! Thanks for reading :]

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The Bookshelf Chair: A Collaborative Project

Today I want to tell you about one of my first collaborative art projects. In the spring semester of my freshman year of college (2010), I took a 3D Design class. I have to be honest and say that I struggled in this class more than in any other art class I took, but I definitely learned a lot from it. I’m happy to share, however, that the semester ended on a really good note for me.

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The final project for the class was a collaborative chair project. We had to work in groups of three and create a chair out of non-traditional materials. I think we had about 4-5 weeks to complete it. The first part of the assignment was to create three prototypes and my group’s weren’t that great… It wasn’t until we hit up a thrift store in Harrisonburg (one that became a favorite store of mine later on) that we landed on a really good idea. We thought about creating a chair by combining two bookshelves and adding on things you might find on a real bookshelf to create parts like a foot-rest, arms, a back, etc. We did have to clear this idea with our professor since wood is definitely a traditional material for chairs, but the idea itself was non-traditional so she approved. The original sketch was pretty rough, but we eventually came up with a really nice design.

Now that we had a 2D design, it was time to make the actual chair. Here are the supplies we ended up using: 2 identical bookshelves (about 3 feet tall each), lots of old books, and a candle holder that was just for decoration. As freshmen, we didn’t have cars so on one of the trips, we had to walk about a mile from the thrift store to the art studio carrying stacks of dictionaries and other thick books. All I can say is that it felt way longer than a mile.

The actual creation of the chair was the most challenging part. I was lucky to have such hard-working group-mates. I’m not sure how much time we spent working on the chair, but I’m going to attempt to summarize the process. We wanted to create a throne-like chair, which meant we had to deconstruct the bookshelves a little bit. We cut a semicircle into one of the top shelves to create a curved back, got rid of the other top shelf, and attached the two bookshelves together.

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Old dictionaries were arranged to create the seat, back, and armrests. To make the armrests more comfortable, we cut them into a curved shape with a band saw. The dictionary  used for the seat “cushion” was opened up to the page that had the definition for the word “chair.” Clever, right?

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The footrest was created by adjusting one of the shelves to where we were able to slide it in and out easily. We glued the books on that shelf to the wall so that they wouldn’t move when the shelf was pulled out.

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We put a lot of effort into making the chair look as finished as possible. We even painted the visible nails so that they would match the color of the wood. My group was really happy with the result and I was really proud of myself for contributing to such a cool piece of art that was also functional (it was surprisingly comfortable to sit in!). Thanks for reading :]

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Sculpture

As an artist, I love making things. I’ve loved making things for a long time now. For some reason though, I never really got into 3D art until I had to take required classes in college. During my time at JMU, I’ve taken 3D Design, Metal and Jewelry, Ceramics, and Sculpture. Although working with these mediums did not come as naturally as painting or drawing for me, I really enjoyed these classes. I took sculpture this past fall and was so worried about it because I just had this idea stuck in my brain that I’m not very good at 3D art. I didn’t expect too much out of the class. Boy was I wrong! I learned so many things and was so proud of myself by the end of the semester. Here is a brief summary of everything I did:

1. Hybrid made out of chicken wire, burlap, plaster, wood, and newspaper

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The requirements for the first project were to make a sculpture combining elements from three different things: a vehicle, a fruit/vegetable, and an animal. I chose a boat, an avocado, and a kangaroo. This project evolved quite a bit and I was very happy with the end result.

2. Plaster Molds of Fruit/Vegetable Hybrids

Pumpkin + Pepper + Starfruit Pumpkin + Pepper + Starfruit Pepper + Gourds Pepper + Gourds Peppers + Starfruit Peppers + Starfruit Peppers + Starfruit

This was my least favorite part of the semester. Mostly because I was super tired of working with plaster by now. We had to bring in 2 fruits or vegetables, coat them with silicone, let the silicone dry, cut off the silicone (the food was starting to rot at this point so that was gross and smelly), wrap the mold with tape, mix plaster, fill the mold with plaster, let the plaster harden, remove the mold, repeat 4 more times, and combine different parts together. We had to make three hybrids (we used each other’s silicone molds) and then choose one to enlarge for our next project. I was so glad to be done mixing plaster.

3. Steel Rod Hybrid Chair Thing

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I learned how to weld! I loved welding. I felt so productive. I think this project took the longest, but I was very proud of myself upon it’s completion. You can really sit on the chair, although it’s not comfortable at all.

4. Conjoined Twins Project

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This final project had the most thought behind it. The assignment was to create an object for conjoined twins and we were encouraged to really think outside the box and consider life as a conjoined twin and what difficulties they are faced with. This explanation is a bit more lengthy so I will write a separate post on it and include the link here :]

I had to work really hard and work on projects over the weekend a lot, but I really enjoyed the class overall. My hard work paid off and I got an A. I learned that I am more capable than I often think. That’s always nice. Thanks for reading, have a great week!

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