Art 600 Students Manipulate Light and Space in the Sanctuary

Art 600 students took advantage of Cochran Bird Sanctuary to experiment with space and light in their sculptures.

Bike wheels strung across high ropes with long flowing sheets of fabric, red clay hearts encaged in plastic boxes, body casts strung around trees, and more stand in the heart of Cochran Bird Sanctuary. Projects scattered along the path are each paired with a short description of the piece and are arranged to interact with their surroundings, either playing with light or manipulating the lush foliage.

Last Sunday, students of Art-600 Advanced Studio Art taught by Therese Zemlin, Chair and Instructor in Art, showcased their Temporary Art Installation projects in the Sanctuary. The opening was a culmination of their work up to this point in the term. The artists began with an initial research question and a prompt as guidelines but were able to take their projects in almost any direction.

“This is one of three Art-600 shows, and this first one is Temporary Art Installations out in the Sanctuary. Each student is creating an installation, and it’s the same assignment I have used for a number of years. I get a different group of students and the students, they come from different experiences and backgrounds and so each year, the students do something completely different with it,” said Zemlin.

The nature of the projects revolves heavily around space, not only that it was a challenge and obstacle for the artists to have to work around, but also that the spatial setting of the Sanctuary added to the pieces’ messages, whether intentionally or not.

“The thing that I like about the Sanctuary is that it is its own space, it’s away from the architecture of the campus. You need to make an effort to go walk out to the Sanctuary, it’s not something that you walk by everyday, so in a way, the pieces are more secure out there, and allows the students to have ideas that are going to be less influenced by the architecture of the campus. I think there’s the built in duality of making something and then putting it out in that somewhat natural environment,” said Zemlin.

Tristan Latham’s ’19 piece, “Life’s Rims,” consists of three bicycle wheels strung across the trees on a high rope. The piece was intended to immerse the viewer within the piece and also represent three different aspects of life: abundance, decay, and death.

The piece pictured above, created by Anna Lang ’19, worked with the natural lighting of the Cochran Sanctuary to emulate positive and negative space.

“It was a parallel to the surrounding woods and the circle of life. The fact that the installation was in the Sanctuary was integral to our projects, we all tried to take inspiration from the Sanctuary or use our work to show it in a new light,” wrote Latham in an email to The Phillipian.

The exhibit also features artwork by Julie Kim ’19. The piece consisted of iridescent strips of cellophane material hung between two trees. Kim’s idea was to evoke the image of a window that would connect the artificial world of her art with its natural surroundings.

“The theme behind it was about nature and have all the people value the Sanctuary as a place for rest and peace, but what we don’t really realize is that the natural element of the Sanctuary is artificial. It’s human crafted, physically and conceptually, and so I wanted my work to be a device that gave the viewer a different perspective to see the nature,” said Kim.

Though the main focus of this annual installation is the manipulation of space and surroundings, the diversity of students, ideas, and classes each year provides for new and unique sculptures.

“Part of it is just the dynamic of each group is different from year to year. Generally, it’s the class bonding that takes place because they spend a lot of time together. In terms of a dynamic on how this year’s class is different from last year’s class, I can’t really put my finger on it, and I’m not sure that I want to. I feel like the class is still evolving and the dynamic is still kind of forming so I wouldn’t want to say anything that would get in the way of that, so that it happens organically,” said Zemlin.

Editor’s Note: Anna Lang ’19 is a Managing Editor for The Phillipian.