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Self-identification installation sculpture.

In our curriculum, we offer an upper-level course to accommodate juniors and seniors who are gifted and talented, and who have exhausted all other art offerings. Each year, in this advanced seminar, we try to have a culminating year-end exhibit. At this time of year, students' work seems to be tied up in portfolios for college entrance and in local and state-wide exhibits. Last spring, after reading Peter London's book, No More Second Hand Art, I decided to try a new approach.

I asked my students to participate in a series of exercises that would initiate self-investigation. They were asked to designate a wall and floor space in our art gallery. In this space they were to do an installation piece which would be a self-identification statement. They could use previous artworks, but the personal space had to have unity, had to project from the wall and include the immediate floor space. They were also to include a written poem or personal statement in the display.

It was slow-going at first. It took one or two students to get started on their installations to set the others on fire. One student asked to use our departmental human skeleton and he began tie-dying a sheet. Another student began building Greek columns as an entrance to her display. A third brought in parts of a mannequin and a fish tank in which she placed real goldfish. Each installation characterized each individual. In fact, their personal approaches to the assignment were individual statements in themselves.

Following the completion of the installations, students filled out written process sheets on their peers. These sheets indicated whether or not they thought the established criteria had been met and what kinds of feelings most were evoked by the installations. The written evaluations were followed by a verbal sharing within the group. Over the year, the group members had grown to care about and trust each other.

Aside from inter-group sharing, students brought refreshments, selected music and had an official opening for friends, family, faculty and administrators. Much controversy and excitement was generated by the display. It was definitely a worthwhile way to end the year, and a worthwhile activity to pursue and expand on in the future.

Who am I? The image and the person: Do they coincide? Mirrots reflect things and people, but not always "The Real Thing." What we are to others isn't what we always perceive ourselves to be. Sometimes, I believe life is as clearcut as "black and white." Other limes, it's rough and rocky with shades of gray. Finally, silver represents life that sometimes is too bright to look at, but with all its twists and turns, it makes life exciting, and a reflection of yourself ... Truthful. Marissa.

My installation project presents my life, The Twister Game, represents my childlike behavior. My heads are hanging to show that I am a dreamer. I stand on my own two feet, That is why the legs hang. The artwork in the corner shows my artistic ability. The hand reaching out is showing I am escaping from childhood, and, the fish represent life, which I hope I have a lot of ... The installation is me, I am me. I am myself. I am Jenny.

Dianne Larson is Art Department Chairperson at Brookfield East High School, Brookfield, Wisconsin.
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Title Annotation:secondary students' art exhibit
Author:Larson, Dianne
Publication:School Arts
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:552
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