Monday, March 18, 2013

The ROYGBIV Project :: Kicking it off :: Pt. 1 of 5

 Last year one of the big winners of all of project endeavors was The Ombre Exprience that sought to allow my student artists to study installation art. It was a lot of work but it was very well received not only by the blog audience I serve but also the school community as well! People couldn't say enough about it and the success inspired me to make an installation art study a regular thing that I would do at least every Spring with the 3D Design class. The big challenge for me would be to do something that was just enough of the same thing to start a tradition but just different enough that it would offer something unexpected as well.

This year I think I really managed to do what I set out to do by focusing on the idea of hanging a rainbow of some sort in the student gallery hallway but rather than me coming up with all of the ways it would be done, I decided to make the project completely student centered and have them come up with how it would all play itself out. The only stipulation I made was that (unlike last year) there had to be representations not only of a rainbow but also the clouds and a sun.

In order to help them be inspired and have ideas start to take root, I showed them examples of installation art and otherwise "outside the box" art via youtube...

And then I conducted class discussions and friendly debate about what was most important in order to accomplish what we were setting out to accomplish and then each of the students spent a day or so coming up with individual proposals about what we could possibly do - either for the whole she-bang or for specific elements like focusing on the sun and clouds. Students were not allowed to put their names on their proposals - that were drawings with brief narrations and explanations - and I presented them using a document camera and projector to the two different classes that were doing this jointly for everyone to vote anonymously with post-it notes that I simply collected and adhered directly to the paper proposals. The ideas with the most ideas automatically became the actual inspiration of what we would end up doing with the three elements of the total installation.

Once voting was done, I presented the final selections to the two classes and then I had them sign-up for the three different ideas/inspirations offering them both the pros and cons presented by each idea. I challenged them to not pick portions of the project where they would be working alongside their friends and I also told them to not let the difficulty that might be presented to dissuade them from working on the element of the project that they really wanted. They all did a great job at divvying themselves up and I was very pleased with not having to make that decision for them. I wanted there to be some real ownership of the creative decisions and actions they were making and taking and doing things this way established it from the get-go.

Good ol' fashioned sign-up sheets! Nothing beats doing it like this.

After the subdivisions of teams were established in BOTH classes that met during two totally different times of the day, I took each class to the school's computer lab for them to do research about materials and supplies that would help facilitate the ideas established with the class voting process. I invested a total of about $75 for the project of my own money and gave each subdivision (rainbow, sun, clouds) $25 to stretch as they needed. I had things like paper mache powder and newspapers and some raw materials already in the art room inventory but felt that a $25 cap was reasonable for them to be both challenged to use wisely and also get what was needed in order to bring life to the idea overall. Each class had about one class period in the computer lab and then they collaborated and coordinated their ideas for a "shopping list" for me at the local Wal-mart for me to get what was needed.

Another part of the process was letting them have some time in the actual space were the installation would be hung. Basically, they got to have a site visit so they could take real measurements and have a better visual understanding of taking the idea of paper and placing it in a physical space. It was helpful for them and "mini field trips" are always a welcome change from staying in the studio classroom.

The planning stage was capped off with me having full confidence in them because they provided me with pretty comprehensive plans WITH supplies lists that also included pricing information in order for me to ensure that I wouldn't end up spending more than I told them I was willing to. I told them to think of me as being a client of theirs who had a zany idea that I wanted to make happen but no manpower or know-how to be able to do it. They were really able to imagine this scenario and treat with some real-world type interaction and appropriate reaction for what needed to be done.


Tomorrow I will show you what happened when we actually got our hands on the materials and start bring life to the ideas that they came up with and were working towards.

This installation art study was student-centered and collaboratively designed and constructed (across two classes). It utilized paper sculpting and papier mache, string wrapping, spray painting and brush painting, fiber application in order to create a sun, clouds, and rainbow display suspended from the ceiling of the student art gallery hallway. It was originally presented in a week long series that showed the planning and creative processing, the beginning part of the sculpting/working stage, the point just about when everything was done being sculpted, and then some notes about when things went awry and how those things were dealt with. The final view of it can be found HERE. This project was meant to be a re-imagining of The Ombre Experience project idea.

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