Not a Tent

“This is not a tent, but it is a work in progress,” reads a baffling wooden placard, pinned to the ground in the Elson courtyard. What is “not a tent?” This is the exact question the students in Art 500 class asked themselves when Emily Trespas, Instructor in Art, assigned them this installation project. The students, split into three groups and responded to the theme “Not a Tent” through their installations. They were provided with limited materials: a few slats, a roll of Jute Twine, twenty stakes, a poly sheet and hex nuts along with numerous tools. In addition, the Office of the Physical Plant allocated spots on the site that are safe for students to insert project materials into. “[The] ‘dig safe’ areas indeed limited students’ choices of ideas,” wrote Trespas in an e-mail to The Phillipian. With these restricted resources and time constraints, Art 500 students worked in groups to turn a vision into art. The first installation, by Chiara Baravalle ’11, Caitlin Kingston ’11, Steven Kosovac ’11 and Gabby Kwon ’11, was built with translucent plastic and panel screens. They named their work “An Evolving View.” Kosovac said, “[Our theme was] evolution and change as well as submission to the natural forces of the weather.” Baravelle added, “Our group was motivated to change the viewer’s perspective of the landscape. If you take a closer look, you will notice that the screens’ location and their stripes echo the pathway and stairs of Elson.” Artists Matt Appleby ’11, Kevin Carey ’11, Jared Curtis ’11 and Hannah McGrath ’11 created another installation, making use of an old metal chain hung between two trees to aid them with their themes of wind and light. “By the second session, our group knew what we wanted. We wanted to manipulate light and wind and the installation that hangs now is the product of our ideas. We have created the translucent plastic tube with triangular metals going through it with openings on the top and bottom so that it can catch the wind, while the translucent material allows the light to go through it as well,” said McGrath. This past Monday evening, this group projected light onto their piece through the windows of the Elson Art classroom, creating a sensational night visual as the tubes and metal pieces cast shadows on the grass. “Our piece has manipulated natural light as well as man made light, which shows how different a piece can be with different types of lights,” said McGrath. The last group, Jessica Holley ’11, Givens Parr ’11, Daniela Pimental ’11 and Sosha Sullivan ’11, made their installation by arranging LP records, blocks and music stands on the ground so that the records looked like were melting onto the blocks as well as protruding from the ground. They named their project “Evidence of a Struggle.” “Our goals were to get the pieces to interact with the space and to express time and sound. This project not only taught us the metamorphosis of art, but also the metamorphosis of ideas,” said Parr. This group revealed the difficulty of the project. “In some ways, art is a lot like a self portrait, which makes it difficult to create art with people that you don’t know really well,” said Sullivan. Art 500 students worked for weeks on their installments. “While the campus views the near final or final installations, the students met for weeks beforehand, brainstorming, sketching, making miniature structures, refining ideas and even starting over with the germ of the first iteration,” said Trespas. With uncontrollable factors like the weather, some groups faced disappointments that forced them to start from scratch, yet such accidents seemed to have helped the students create even greater installations. Trespas hopes that the Andover community will “keep looking, keep visiting and keep questioning” the inspiring installation that will be on display until the end of Parents’ Weekend.