Saturday, April 26, 2014

sculpture deathmatch II; the war of the welds

While my grass at home kept growing, last Saturday I rolled out of bed well before the sun and made my way to school.  That's right, school on a Saturday.  What kind of idiot goes to school on a Saturday?  Better yet, what kind of idiot goes to school voluntarily on a Saturday?  Well, me and the coolest students on the planet apparently.

 The Sculpture Deathmatch was hatched last semester as a fun event and promotional tool for the department.  It was a hit and so this semester we wanted to have another one.  Just to make sure we're all on the same page with what this entails, here are the rules:  We meet on a Saturday in the sculpture studio.  We divide into two teams to compete against one another.  Each team has 12 hours to design, create and install an outdoor sculpture on campus.  The following Monday photos of the finished sculptures are posted on the art department Facebook page and the students vote for the winner.  

This is not a graded event.  The students give up an entire Saturday to participate in this.  For some this means not going home, getting off work and missing out on easier, more fun weekend activities.  It's a big sacrifice.  And yet they still choose to do it.  Like I said, coolest students on the planet.

My Advanced Sculpture class became one team.  For the other team, I called up Sean who participated last semester and Ashley who also participated last time and has since graduated.  

 The trash talk began immediately.  

 Since the students are sacrificing to participate, I try to be a good host.  Doughnuts for breakfast and a ton of cookies, snacks and drinks through the day.

 At 8:55 am we met to go over the rules and take team photos.  That's my Advanced Sculpture class, "Team Coffeesmoke".  It's a long story and it wouldn't make any sense to you.  Just go with it.  

 And this is Team "Ostentatious A".  It's also a long story and while it might make sense to you, just go with it.  Singletary was the surprise team member.  Team Coffeesmoke didn't find this out until this photo was made.

 Three days earlier the forecast was sunny and 72 degrees.  When we showed up it was chilly and drizzling rain.  It stayed that way all day.  So instead of spreading out on the patio we crowded inside and the teams tried to keep their plans secret.

 That's Travis with his eyebrow raised while he draws a leaf from observation.  Team Coffeesmoke chose an outdoor site and grabbed some leaves and flowers from that site to inspire them.

 While Sean and Ashley worked, Cessquatch took the sledgehammer outside and started pounding things for no apparent reason.  This is normal.  Hammers are fun.  When things need to be destroyed with a hammer everyone calls in the Cessquatch.

 That's Abby inside an old pool filter tank for no apparent reason.  This is normal.  And yes, she's wearing a dust mask and overalls.

 I encouraged Sean to work within a more reasonable scale.  Everything Sean makes has to be enormous.  It's a problem.  And after my "please make things small enough that we can move them" speech, he ignored me and started building this huge, heavy steel structure.  Sigh.

 "Does that need hammering?" asked Cessquatch.  She's at her happiest with a hammer in her hand.

 Ashley has been away from the sculpture studio since December.  She missed it so much.  She was thrilled to get to use the fun tools again.

 Andrew got the day off from keeping his 7 month old son.  I'm not sure if this was such a sacrifice for him.  More like a day off.

 Hungry sculptors need a good lunch so I brought in a piping hot tray of chicken from Chick-Fil-A.  Boom!  Host of the year.

 Another cool thing about the Deathmatches is that people can come hang out.  Katie's mom and stepdad came to check out the fun.  Molly visited on breaks from working on her project in the next room and Gordon brought us breakfast and stayed for a long time.  Our wicked schedule this semester forced us to have this one on the Saturday before Easter.  Not a great time to get visitors, but we still had a few.

 Abby's man-friend came and painted her face with wood stain.  It was nice to have a budding romance to try to destroy on the side.  They met at Pizza Hut earlier in the week and had a date after the Deathmatch.  

 Sculptors don't care if they get wet.  They also don't mind driving the streets surrounding the school and picking up branches and vines the locals have put out on the curb.  

 I know that during the average school day people walk by the sculpture area and wonder what the heck is going on.  I'm sure they hear things and see things that seem absurd.  Things like this perhaps.  But what's going on actually makes some sense.  Those three are acting as counter weights while Andrew bends things in the vise.  It's logical, it just looks goofy.

 See what I mean about Sean?  He pulled Rashaad into helping him with this ginormous thing.  A little while later I walked out and he had recruited this 9 foot tall basketball player to come hold something.  That was when I began steering them away from the ridiculous height they were shooting for.

 Safety is a big deal with these events.  I have to make sure visitors and team members are protected at all times and there's a lot of preparation that goes into that.  Still, with sculpture, even the most precautious people can pick up some small injuries.  Singletary dropped a red hot spark down her shoe and it toasted her sock and her skin.

 And Cessquatch had a little incident with the hammer.  Ok, it was just a scratch but we poured some BBQ sauce all around the band aid to make it look more impressive.  We are idiots.

 In the afternoon we had some more visitors.  G came with the kids to check out the show.  Blue was immediately drafted on to Team Coffeesmoke for his hammering skills.  Tyler left his mom's wedding and sped to the Deathmatch and jumped right in with his team.  He threw the safety glasses on Blue and put a hammer in his hand.

 Cessquatch appears to be burning Katertot.  It looks awesome but I promise it's safe.

 Blue was beating the fool out of some steel leaves and eventually he scraped his finger.  He was tough, though.  He wanted to cry but he sucked it up and posed his finger for this photo instead.

 Soon it was getting late.  Singletary left for a dinner meeting and I helped Sean and Ashley carry their much lighter and much improved sculpture across campus for installation.  They needed some time to put the finishing touches on at the actual site.  Team Coffeesmoke started carrying out their small installation pieces and getting those placed.  Meanwhile Tyler and Travis worked on the last big leaf.

 After 11 hours of hard work and laughter, people were starting to wind down.  Travis was still laughing but Katertot and Cessquatch were dragging a bit.

 The only thing holding Abby up at this point was Caitlin.

 Team Ostentatious was finished now and Team Coffeesmoke only had one more piece to install.  Andrew and Tyler marched the giant leaf to the library with the rest of the team in tow.

Everyone was relieved and ready to go to sleep but we had opted to work through dinner in order to try to get finished earlier.  So after we cleaned up the studio we all headed to Millhouse for some nourishment.  The teams put aside their differences for this group photo before we parted ways for the night.

 On Monday I got my first daylight view of the sculptures.  Team Coffeesmoke's "Where's the Rake" installation blends in with it's environment and transforms a line of real leaves into steel and plastic leaves that grow into the large magnolia leaf against the wall.

 Team Ostentatious' "Fish Sticks" puts three recycled steel fish into a large imaginary reef environment created out of steel, vines and branches.

Voting began on Monday and ended at 5:00 pm on Tuesday.  The people have spoken and their choice for the winner of Sculpture Deathmatch II; War of the Welds is...


It's important to note that both of these sculptures are installation pieces and they do not photograph well.  If you're able, go by in person and see these sculptures.  Walk around them and experience them.  I'm very proud of my Minions and their hard work.

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