Friday, June 28, 2013

Surrealism And A Whack Upside The Head

In this summer issue of Sound Off, we explore the last works of CHRHS high school students before they left for the school year or graduated. Art teacher Carolyn Brown introduced the characteristics of surrealism (art that doesn't follow the rules of gravity, surface change, scale change, color change) with a twist. "I was pushing each student to do something that challenged themselves on a new level," she said. "I gave the class an exercise where they all had to write down a certain number of nouns and verbs and put them in a pile. Then, they all had to grab back four nouns and two verbs and use them to create a drawing or a painting based on what they got from the random pile. Kind of a whack upside the head to shock their imaginations and push them with that problem-solving." 

Do kids like surrealism because it encourages them to break the rules?

"Yes," said Carolyn. "They have a lot of fun with it and loved coming up with something bizarre and interesting."

Here are a few examples of how the pieces turned out.

Artist: Alice Wang

Editor Comment: We've featured whimsical artist Alice Wang in Sound Off before. She has also appeared in Pen Bay Pilot's "Hail To The Rad Kid" series.

Teacher Comment:  Alice had recently done skeleton studies in a different class and decided she wanted to take this skill in a new direction and do something more original and creative with it. So she really cranked up the color and focused on the anatomy of the hand. 

Artist: Alice Wang

Teacher Comment: The clock was one of her words and she ended up doing something imaginative with it by using it as the eye of the owl, which was another one of her words. She could add other random elements as she saw fit. But, the idea was to come up with a  concept based on the words and she added objects juxtaposed in bizarre ways that make the viewer come up with a different meaning.

Artist: Greta Buckley

Teacher Comment:  In hers, I believe that what she did was take a couple of the words, the clock and magic wand and then she changed her word pile around a bit. She said what she was inspired by is working with the idea of fairy tales. Then, she added her own imagery. She used the clock as the metaphor of time passing in Cinderella's world and then the strike of the magic wand symbolizes something is about to happen. And then the trailing of words at the bottom are actually lyrics from Disney movie songs, like boppity boo. So fairy tales inside surrealism is how she worked out her ideas. 

Artist: Katie Sensenig

Teacher Comment: I know that one of the random words she had was "Eiffel Tower" and she came up with the rest of the idea that was reminiscent of some of her travels, like the poodle and the pyramid. She decided to turn it into a surrealistic landscape with these elongated cafe tables and chairs and cobblestones. She used some of the concepts of surrealism with changed form and juxtaposed images in a strange way.

Artist: Lizzie Ogle

Teacher Comment: Coincidentally, here is the clock again. Lizzie had a few words that gave her a starting point, like "eye" and "rabbit" and she added to that. She came up with the idea of an Alice In Wonderland theme with the checkerboard, the "Drink Me" bottle, the mushroom and the roses. This is actually Alice's eye in the dream of Alice In Wonderland. What was really fun about these projects is how the random words were triggers  and how that triggered ideas in their own minds for imagery.

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