By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
Local sculptors Joy Falls and Connie Tarbox held two, four-hour art sessions with four budding artists recently, with the express intent to manifest a 3-D exhibit at the Kenai Fine Arts Center this month.
Students ranged from 11 to 14 years of age and were at first asked to individually create with large white pedestals of varying sizes. Generally utilized as stands for artwork display, the wooden boxes are painted white for uniformity.
Cristina Hubler, Sawyer Mahan, Mika Morton and Desmond Ticknor all played around with the oversized building blocks, getting a feel for the medium and discussing what they learned along the way. Conversation tended to return to the concept of chaos and its alternative, order.
As the group moved into the collaborative stage, the students worked with 60 units in all, and eventually agreed upon a round format, with irregularities scattered throughout the construction. They called their piece “Shattered Circle,” and there is in fact a kind of entryway into the circle on the far side of the installation.
The final exploration the group made was into the effects of light on the construction, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing around with the lighting myself. I turned just the studio lights on at first, and then added the fluorescents and then removed the studio lights to see the different effects. Each stage gave the compilation an entirely different flavor. I thought it might be intriguing to hide lights inside of some of the cubicles, perhaps with Christmas tree lights or some other innocuous lighting source.
Actually entering the circle had sacred connotations for me, and I was glad I could visit the exhibit when no one else was around. I especially had fun with any of the places where irregularities existed, which may very well be simply my own tendencies.
Others viewing the same installation could feel most comfortable with the orderliness of the arrangement, and ignore the precarious feeling of the placements of some of the blocks.
The instructors were pleased with the efforts and growth of their students, who surpassed expectations. Sculpture created in this manner utilizes brain functions and interpersonal skills that the many activities students find themselves involved with don’t necessarily utilize. Kudos to Tarbox and Falls for moving into this type of exploration, with the hope that they continue working with kids in ways that both challenge and nurture student creativity.
Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.