Festival-sponsored artists reinvent areas of campus
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 23:04
Tiny copper people, carefully crafted into detailed creations will find a home in the trees of Mandel Quad during the coming week. Balls and balls of yarn that have been transformed into knit graffiti to paint the campus with color. These are only two of the various visual art projects that student grant recipients will display to transform the campus during the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, which will begin this Thursday.
Sarah Bierman ’14, creator of The Enchanted Life of Trees project, to which the copper people belong, and Sarah Hershon ’14, responsible for the Knit Graffiti project, received funding after being selected to display their projects in the festival taking place April 26 to 29. Students applied for the grants with a proposal, which detailed their project, the purpose of the work and how much funding would be necessary.
The idea for Bierman’s project began last semester when she created two-inch copper foil sculptures to hang in trees for her “Blurring the Boundaries” sculpture class. Tasked with creating a project that interacts closely with its environment, Bierman came up what she viewed as a simple project: “little copper people, chilling out in trees.” After hearing a few weeks later that students could apply for grants to participate in the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, Bierman decided to turn her five tiny copper people into something big.
“I explained that I thought the copper people are very telling of the human experience. They are the ideal version of the human experience,” Bierman said of her grant proposal. “The copper people will interact with the environment effortlessly,” she said.
In rain or snowfall, Bierman says the copper people will adapt to look more like their environment, unlike humans, who are challenged to craft unforeseen circumstances into something meaningful. “For me, the copper people succeed in something that humans really have to try hard to succeed at,” Bierman explained. “They age and tarnish, but still retain their character even if their shine is hidden.”
Since Bierman’s project was accepted for the festival at the beginning of the semester, she has spent hours crafting her copper people which will be displayed in the trees of Mandel Quad throughout the week. All engaged in different actions, Bierman has created a copper Rapunzel, a man playing an accordion to a girl on a balcony and a girl reading a book to a bunch of kids, among dozens of others.
While the ideas came randomly at first, Bierman has since started gaining inspiration from some of her favorite feature length films and TV shows. “If there are people in it, that means they’re doing something. I watched You’ve Got Mail a bunch of times and I have copper people sharing coffee,” she said. Many of the copper people, she says, are portraits of herself, inspired by relationships with her own friends.
For Bierman, her hope is that the copper people will invite viewers to look more closely at their environments, and that the way they make her feel will translate into something more universal for the campus.
“When I met with the entire grant recipient group in January, [Associate Director of the Office of the Arts] Ingrid Schorr used the word ‘enchanted.’ I didn’t think of it when I was writing my proposal, but when she said that I thought it was the perfect word,” Bierman recalled. “Because yes, they are people doing everyday things, but they’re in trees and they’re shiny and that has a feeling of enchantment for me,” she said.
During the festival, as spectators move from Mandel Quad down toward lower campus, the art will transition from the tiny copper creations to knit graffiti, which will paint the area behind the Shapiro Campus Center.
“My project is called yarn bombing. It’s kind of like knit graffiti. It’s this emerging graffiti form that’s come about in the last five years. It consists of covering things, usually [outdoors], in pieces of knitted fabric. So lots of times it’s light posts or trees or parking meters or bicycle [racks],” Hershon explained. She sees the project as not only beautiful, but as something fun and whimsical with its bright shades of pink and orange.
A double major in Women’s and Gender Studies and African and African American Studies, Hershon explained that though she’s never had any fine arts training, she began knitting six years ago and has always been interested in crafts.
Since being selected for the grants in January, Hershon has spent hundreds of hours knitting with others in preparation for the project.
“I wanted to make it as community-involving as possible. The main goal of this entire project was just to get people on campus to knit and to get people on campus who do knit to come together and do it,” she explained.
Hershon therefore began organizing weekly meetings where students and faculty gather to knit for the project. With eight others helping Hershon knit for the upcoming festival, she says she’s done about 60 percent of the knitting on her own while the others have helped her cover the rest.
“I think that it’s absolutely something that starts a conversation. One of my big things is starting a conversation about what is art versus craft,” Hershon explained of the project.
For both Bierman and Herson, the hope is that their projects will cause people to stop and look, enjoying the aesthetics of the work displayed during the festival.
“I hope to inspire the glance of an eye or two. I hope to allow the viewer a chance to stumble upon discovery. Art is transformative, sites are moving, and when I get that feeling I need to pass it on,” Bierman wrote in her proposal.