Monday, March 5, 2018

plaster disaster

Disaster is not the correct word, it just rhymed.  It's more like a "plaster evil master plan" or as my freshmen students call it, "project 2".  With the horrors of "project 1" building their character and with me asking ridiculous questions and engaging them in odd conversations, each of my ART 106 (3D Design) classes is developing it's own personality.  While students come into this second semester class generally knowing who their peers are, in this new class they may really only know a couple of people.  And they have no idea what to think about me.  They've heard things about me and my classes.  They've been warned about my projects.  They've received an entire semester's worth of weekly emails inviting them to slog with us.  

Studio art students need to learn to work in community and learn to take full advantage of the studio environment.  They need to learn to work together and help each other out.  That's where the plaster project comes in.  It's my favorite - mostly because of plaster pouring day and how that changes the entire group.  I wont bore you with the details but I will share the juicy photos...

 I forgot to get a "before" photo of the MWF class.  But this is what happened about 2 minutes into plaster pouring day.  The plaster leaked out of the mold faster than I could pour it in.

 The gushing plaster brought every available hand in to put pressure on the leaks.  The idea is that slowing the leak will give the plaster time to start to set up.  It's a good theory.

 I almost remembered the "before" photo for the morning TR class.  This is half of them.  The other half were frantically duct taping their forms in the other room, racing against a ticking clock and a shouting McAbee.  Notice how clean they are?

 30 seconds later....

 30 seconds later.  The puddle of plaster just kept growing.  That's why the plastic is there.  With everyone trying to apply pressure and keep the plaster on the plastic, it quickly becomes a messy game of Twister.

 I am not a fan of pink duct tape.  It annoys me in general.  But with rainbows and unicorns on it...I gave in and loved it.

 Look at the expression on Grace's face.  At this point, she had totally given up hope and started laughing pretty much non-stop.  She has a really good snort when she laughs.

 And check out Katherine's expression.  This is exactly how I feel about plaster pouring day.  I know there are students who hate it because it's messy and because their project explodes, but everyone has a good time.  It's pretty much the best class ever.

 An aerial view of the madness.

 Check out Rashad's shoe protectors.  Plastic bags tied over the Jordans.  Classic!  Also, yes, there's a naked mannequin on the sculpture studio.  It's a project.

 And this is the "after" photo.  I was a little late taking it and lost a few people to the next class but they all looked similar.  Those are the faces of survivors.  Joy, sadness, regret mixed with a healthy dose of relief.  These are changed people.

 This is as close as I got to a "before" photo of the TR afternoon class.  First pour, first leak.  That's Emily in the background.  Students from previous years always enjoy coming back on plaster day to watch the show.  At one point we had more people watching from the sidelines than we had in the actual class.

 I enjoy observing people as you may know.  I love to watch the faces of the students during the pouring.  While 6 of these students are jumping in to help the one student whose mold we are pouring, they are laughing nervously.  You can almost watch the exact moment when they process this information and realize that their own mold is going to leak like a screen door.  That's a very entertaining moment for me.  

 You also get to see how far a student is willing to go to save their project.  Cali had way too many seams and she knew hers was a time bomb.  She sacrificed herself and wrapped her entire body around her mold to hold it together.  It may have been a little awkward but it worked.

 But the teamwork is the best.  They all jump in and help each other.  They suffer together and grow closer.  They also beg the peanut gallery for help and mean people like Ricardo laugh hysterically at them and say no.

 Hannah thought hers was built to last.  There were only a couple of minor leaks on the first pour.  But then gravity raised it's ugly head.  That's what happens when you believe in gravity.  

 This is the exact moment Kelsey gave up on life.  Nah, hers filled up eventually just like all the others.  

Then the clean up began.  3 classes poured, 31 students or so.  We went through a lot of plaster and made a huge mess.  When the relief and exhaustion set in, Yessica started free styling some clean up raps.  It was hilarious and painful.  Let's just say she likes to rhyme words with the exact same word.  Here's a line from her new album dropping soon, "My name is Cali and I like to mop, I made a mess and I cleaned it up with a mop."  Poetry.

After spring break they'll turn these plaster forms into well-thought-out, very effective compositions.  They'll know how to wipe their feet effectively before exiting the studio.  They'll have a pretty good idea their professor is evil.  And they'll have a shared experience that will help them in untold ways for the next 3 years.  

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