Stuffed Animals, Bubble Wrap, and Yarn Among Sculpture II Installations

Nina Burik Although art is found on the walls throughout the upper school, the unique and abstract art installations found in the LC created by the Sculpture Two class seem to be representative of something greater. They feel relevant to today and alive, but what do they mean, exactly? What was the inspiration for these works? This sculpture course is organized into three main stages: the desired results stage, the evidence stage, and finally, the learning plan stage. In the desired results portion of the class, students begin to understand their own identity, come to acknowledge its power, and learn that art’s potential for emotional influence is great. But what feels to be most in the forefront, Ms. Kerrigan’s course overview says, “students will understand that art can have a social function when placed in either traditional or non-traditional spaces.” With their newfound knowledge of themselves and their ability to evoke change through many artistic mediums, Sculpture Two students then move on to the next phase, known as the evidence stage. In this section, students begin to observe sculptural works done by established artists and start to blog about their findings. This step allows students to understand what an impactful art installation looks like and how it can affect the viewer. From there, students develop sketches, locations, and mediums in which to have their own installation. After all of the previous actions, the sculptors then embark on their third and final step: the learning plan stage, where they complete their plans for their installation and blog about their artistic process and journey to their final product. Seniors Siena Craigie and Summer Crown’s installation “Bedtime Stories” is the perfect example of how one can take inspiration from others, yet still maintain their own artistic voice. “Our original inspiration for this project was artist Mike Kelley and the way he reworks stuffed animals,” Siena and Summer write on their blog. With this influence, the pair set out to convey something applicable not only to themselves, but to viewers like them. The two decided to “challenge the childhood experience and ‘cuteness’” by creating stuffed animals that may not necessarily fit in with this “fluffy” mold to set a more realistic expectation of the world to children. Summer and Siena’s choice to display their work on the bookshelves of the learning commons was an easy one. “We ultimately chose to use the bookshelves in the learning commons because it perfectly matched our theme,” the two write on their blog. This theme being the impractical stories society ingrains in children and human nature’s normalized practice to coddle and protect the young, rather than prepare them for the challenging actualities of life. Found in a conference room of the learning commons, the installation, “Under” by Amanda Aprati, Olivia Garber, and Betsy Levine comments on the “bubble” that surrounds many members of the Latin community. On her blog, Amanda writes, “we wanted to create an installation that would challenge students to think beyond the walls of Latin and the Gold Coast.” Aprati challenged students and faculty to consider the city of Chicago as a whole, not just their own zip code. With this goal in mind, Amanda, Betsy, and Olivia decided to emphasize the injustices of gun violence outside of Latin. Most Latin students seem unaffected by these tragedies, which can lead to their normalization.   Amanda, Olivia, and Betsy chose to wrap news articles about these various incidents in bubble wrap to represent the incomplete and blurred lens through which the Latin community reads the headlines. Students were encouraged to take part in this installation by “popping the bubbles and pressing down on the bubble wrap,” as this action made the words underneath easier to read. This element of viewer interaction made all of the difference—an artist’s biggest accomplishment is not only provoking thought, but inciting change. This option to participate in something as effortless as popping a bubble on a sheet of bubble wrap is possibly the first step towards popping the Latin community’s own bubble. These installations created by the Sculpture Two class exemplify students’ ability to use their voice, whether it be in an artistic form or otherwise, to comment on injustice. “I hope the Latin community sees this as a jumping-off point…an invitation to discuss often ignored matters,” Amanda said.]]>