Student art projects

My classes at Framingham State are two hours long, so I give students a ten minute break halfway through class. While my students typically use this time to text, check Facebook, or otherwise fiddle with their phones, I use this time to walk the hallways of May Hall: a chance to stretch my legs and clear my head before teaching the second half of class.

Leaf collages

My favorite place in May Hall is the top floor, where the art studios are located. While art students diligently sketch, sculpt, and piece together projects in those studio classrooms, I walk the hallway and admire the finished projects on display: ceramic and papier-mâché sculptures, mobiles constructed from wire and paper, and colorful collages created from fallen leaves.

This is my Day Nineteen contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Toy soldiers

It’s the time of year when Keene State College art students use whatever’s close at hand to make temporary sculptures they display on campus. Because the typical college student doesn’t have a lot of money, these art projects rely heavily on inexpensive supplies such as chicken wire and papier-mâché along with everyday objects like castoff water bottles, plastic coat hangers, or little green army men. You don’t need a lot of money to build an interesting sculpture, just a little creativity.

This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Little. For more photos of this year’s art projects, click here. Enjoy!

Recyclable

One surefire sign of fall at Keene State College is the annual appearance of student art projects. As in past years, these temporary outdoor sculptures feature cheap, widely accessible materials such as empty water bottles and plastic coat hangers. When you’re a starving student artist, you learn to use whatever you find close at hand.

Green bike

This practice of creative frugality is one I can appreciate. On a gray, mildly Melvillean day like today, it’s easy to feel like one’s cupboard of creative inspiration is bare. Finding nothing scenic or sensational to share, you reach for whatever is close at hand, even if “whatever is close at hand” is a handful of photos you shot last month. On some days, preparation for blogging starts the night before; on other days, it takes even longer than that.

One of the things I enjoy about my November commitment to post something every day is the way it forces my creative hand. If I were a student in a college art class, I’d have to figure out a way to impress my professor with yesterday’s trash by today’s deadline: I wouldn’t have the time or the luxury to wait for inspiration. Making a commitment to blog everyday accomplishes something similar. On any given day, you’ve promised to post something whether you feel inspired or not, and this discipline to “do it anyway” unlocks its own kind of creativity. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and it turns out that “invention” has a twin sibling named “inspiration.” Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, a blogger who’s promised to post every day has to take her inspiration wherever she can find it.

One student's trash...

…is another student’s art project.

One student's trash...

Now that the Fall semester at Keene State is entering its final month, student art projects are starting to appear on campus. Because student artists are typically starving artists, these projects are usually constructed from common, inexpensive materials. One past project, for instance, was constructed entirely from plastic coat hangers, plastic forks, and plastic drinking straws: materials a student could easily (and cheaply) acquire at the neighborhood dollar store. Other past projects have employed tin foil and styrofoam cups, and this year’s projects show a strong preference for chicken wire and papier–mâché.

As much as I enjoy visiting art museums to see installations made by “professional” artists, there’s something inspiring about the ingenuity of these student artists. Given the limitations of a short semester and cash-strapped lifestyles, it’s encouraging to see creativity find its own way to transform a trashcan’s worth of recylables into something far more interesting. Now that I’ve seen this sphere of chicken wire studded with bead-bedecked water bottles, I’m inspired to take another look at my own trashcan and recycle bin, wondering what sort of art-in-the-making I might find therein.