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Inspired Art: Unique Mediums & Large-Scale Designs

From September 4 – November 2, six students from ArtLAB and Architecture II​ classes constructed life-size installations in the Dana Hall Art Gallery. The student architects and artists in both classes used all recycled cardboard building materials; they worked together to continually problem solve and creatively design and assemble their work.
ArtLAB students C. Johnson ’18, S. Barros ’18 and B. Meng ’19 used the gallery space as a studio to sketch and experiment with ways to make art out of this simple material. C. Johnson ’18 used the MakerSpace and laser cutter to design, layout and cut her light sculpture depicting a quote from Greek philosopher Plato. S. Barros ’18 utilized the MakerSpace to produced more than 300 cardboard parts to create a line of cardboard boots walking up the wall.
The cardboard constructions of Architecture II students M. Ma ’18, M. Jarrunpattana ’18 and F. Keerasuntonpong ’19 were inspired by an imagined scenario. Students were presented with this challenge: You are suddenly stranded on an island with a large pile of cardboard and duct tape, having studied architecture and modernism. What would you build as a survival structure?
Visual Arts Department Chair and Dana Art Gallery Director Michael Frassinelli envisioned this collaborative project as a way for students to create large-scale art, showcase their work and experiment with artistic themes.
“​Occasionally we have the first exhibit of the year be a student show,” explains Frassinelli. “For the ArtLAB class​, it gives them an approach to the work with a deadline and the fact that it will be viewed not only for the individual works of art, but also as an exhibit. In this case, the exhibit took the form of an ‘installation,’ which is a type of art where the show is tied together with a theme and every part of the gallery relates to each other in some way.”
“For the architects, the project allowed them to use a relatively easy material to work with (cheap, recycled and light) to design and build something bigger than themselves. In class, we often are working on a small scale — drawing, building models or working on a computer. But this project gave students the opportunity to basically construct a building and have viewers experience the space in human scale, the way architecture is meant to be experienced. Also, they learn very quickly that working at a large scale is not easy, from the time it takes, to the amount of material involved, to the collaborative nature of its construction.”
Part of Frassinelli’s inspiration for this project was derived from the film The Cardboard Bernini. Dana Hall alumna Jody Becker ’82 was the story editor for this documentary, which follows artist Jimmy Grashow for six years as he builds a cardboard version of Rome’s Trevi Fountain.
Near the end of the cardboard exhibit, Architecture I students joined in by creating cardboard models of floor plans for their personal space project.
All participating students gained an appreciation of the challenges of working with cardboard, creating on a larger scale, and finding inspiration in simple mediums.

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