Offered for the first time this summer, the Interactive Art course not only introduced students to a new concept in the realm of visual arts, it also permitted an opportunity for them to explore and develop new ideas as a group, creating a collaborative art piece. The class worked on the project over the month of May, and the final product will be available for viewing in the Kristin Michelle Mason Art Gallery in September. An opening reception will be held during the fall semester for this interactive art experience, which should provide a fun and unique experience for visitors and for the creators of this original art piece.
The idea for the group interactive art performance was determined through a collaborative class process that began with a brainstorming session. Each student identified topics of interest, and they then looked for connecting interests. The ideas of war/piece, unity, heartbreak, excitement, and dreams proved popular. Further exploration led to narrowing down the conceptual idea to war as a metaphor for heartbreak, represented through dreams. Only one of the students who participated in this course was a Studio Arts major, which brought an interesting dynamic to the group since people brought their diverse backgrounds and interests with them to the project and showed that anyone can find their artistic niche.
The next step in the process involved turning this abstract concept into a concrete art project. After considering possible materials and props, the class settled on the idea of turning a bed into a weapon of sorts. Wearing pajamas and laying in bed, one student will use a slingshot to launch cotton sheep stuffed with Jell-O powder across a fence while the other side will have a tank launching its own “ammunition.” This will all be set up on a giant “cake” platform, appropriately messaged to fit the overall concept of the piece. Some possible suggestions at this point include: “Eat cake, don’t make war”; “Sweet dreams are made of this”; and “Big dreams.” Quite a few message options are being considered, and a class vote will determine the winner. Check out the display in the art gallery to find out which message the students decided on.
For this art course, one class requirement was to write an essay describing the conceptual purpose of the project. It is expected that students be able to articulate both in writing and in person the intention behind the project. This way, when visitors see the final piece, they should be able to ask anyone in the class what it means and receive a consistent and clear answer. While there may be some individual variation in interpretation and explanation, there should be a central message that is consistent amongst the group. Viewers of this exhibition should feel comfortable sharing their interpretation of the piece and asking the student artists about their perspective and intentions in creating it.
This concept of heartbreak is universal and especially engaging for this age group to explore, and viewers are encouraged to extract their own meaning from the exhibition. Studio Arts Assistant Professor Russ Bellamy insists, “As long as people come up with some idea of the concept, it’s successful.”
This interactive art experience will constitute the first exhibition in the Kristin Michelle Mason Art Gallery for the fall semester. A reception is planned for the month of September. At that time, Beacon students, as well as members of the public, are invited to experience this contemporary art form and to create their own meaning for the performance. Student Carlos Ramos is looking forward to seeing people’s reactions at this event, and the entire class is appreciating the new skills and experience they are gaining from the class.
One of the questions that may arise during the exhibition, and one that has been explored in this class, is the idea of what constitutes art. This interactive art experience is sure to be one that many people would not typically consider art, and that will hopefully add to the learning experience as viewers question their preconceived notions and delve deeper into that thought process. It should also be fun, as this offers a unique opportunity to actually become part of the artistic display.
Look for information on the opening reception for this student art show at the beginning of the fall semester.