By Kiara Amaya
When I first stepped into F5, I was simply looking to take a photo of a student for a Plaid Press article; however, behind the door was utter chaos. The screeching sound of packing tape and plastic wrap being unraveled and the sight of students wrapping each others’ bodies in tape was the last thing I expected to stumble upon. I immediately had tons of questions, it’s not exactly an ordinary sight, even in an art class.
The IB visual arts students have been spending their class time venturing into the realm of 3D art, visual and performing arts (VAPA) teacher Stefani Thomas is guiding her students through the process of creating figural sculptures, inspired by artist Mark Jenkins.
Throughout the school year, students have been working within a theme, in this particular extension students came up with expressive poses in order to communicate their themes. Originally unknown to the students, the project was to recreate the poses and create a cast of themselves executing it by wrapping themselves in plastic wrap and tape. The finished projects will be part of the student’s displays at the art show during Open House.
“Students really had to think about gesture and expression with the human body for this project,” Thomas said. “How could a mood or theme be communicated silently, using the body? It really pushed them to problem-solve, and come up with poses that were likely out of their comfort zone. Unless students benefit from some sort of acting or dance class, they are not used to being in their bodies and using them like this. It is a real challenge. Fortunately they did work in groups to help get the photos, then wrap their bodies in several rolls of tape.”
The use of gestures to silently express themes and emotions is what sets this particular project apart and draws one in to find out what each and every student is communicating through their art.
“The thing that I love about this art project is that we have been able to create molds of our own bodies,” senior Tala Ahmadie said. “We feel really attached to the piece because it is so personal to each of us. The whole process has been super fun. My friends have wrapped me and I’ve wrapped them and it’s made us feel closer to each other. Mrs. Thomas especially has been very helpful and supportive of our ideas. She’s the best art teacher ever. I haven’t had an art class since eighth grade and the fact that she puts so much work into organizing these projects for us has made me excited about art again.”
The project has also benefited students creatively through expanding their knowledge of what kind of art they believed they could create and the materials they thought they could use. The project has fostered outside-the-box ideas and an encouraging place to execute them.
“Creating sculptures is something that has always interested me, but doing so with tape was a completely new idea,” junior Sabina Puertas said. “Figuring out how to create the shapes I wanted and keep them stable was a little tough but definitely a fun experience. I’m really glad Mrs. Thomas gave us this assignment because I would have never thought of creating such a large piece of art with just tape. I’ve had a lot of fun doing this project. It’s definitely something I’ve looked forward to everyday. It’s honestly a pretty fun and hilarious experience to have to formulate a cool shape by wrapping yourself in tape.”
The challenge of the IB visual arts class is that each student must create enough artwork to have their own shows in the spring. The art pieces also have to contain a variety of media to meet the IB requirements. Other projects have included drawing, painting, wire sculptures, and photography.
“It’s a lot, but really gives the students a chance to shine in a variety of media they can’t get in one class otherwise,” Thomas said.
IB students enjoy the opportunity to take visual arts for one or two years, gaining a wide range of knowledge and abilities through a variety of different mediums.
“From developing fine motor skills and observation skills, to problem solving, each art project is a challenge that has to be solved,” Thomas said. “It requires a lot of planning, and synthesis of what we learn in class. What I love so much about art classes is seeing students surprise themselves, accomplishing something they doubted they could do. It happens every day in class. It makes my job so fun.”