Spectrum of Art Part 4: 3D Media/Processes

In Part 4 of the Spectrum of Art, students see how artists working in three dimensions use clay, glass, metal, stone, and sand to create original works of art.

Ceramics: Chris Strecker

Chris Strecker, who declared a forestry major in college, remembers the initial artistic inspiration that came from visiting a ceramics class. Thirty years later, she continues to create pieces that she hopes “go directly into the kitchen” for daily use. As she demonstrates working with the potter’s wheel, she talks about the process, from shaping the clay to glazing and firing the finished product.

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about the artist’s methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion. (See the “Making Art” section of the binder for activities that use this medium or are based on the artist’s ideas and approaches to art.)
Use in conjunction with a discussion of the functional versus expressive purposes of art.
Compare and contrast Strecker’s approach to ceramics with Wayne Ferguson’s approach (from the “Ceramics” segment on Through Artists’ Eyes).
Use as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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Glass: Stephen Rolfe Powell

Stephen Rolfe Powell demonstrates the dramatic process of combining tiny colored glass beads with fire, then blowing and shaping the hot glass into colorful and delicate works of art. Viewers get a glimpse of his hot-glass studio at Centre College in Danville, where Powell guides his students through the process and talks about the physical and collaborative elements of this art form.
Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about the artist’s methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion. (See the “Making Art” section of the binder for activities that use this medium or are based on the artist’s ideas and approaches to art.)
Use in conjunction with a discussion of the purposes of art. Why is Powell attracted to glass as a medium? What is he trying to achieve in his work?
Use in conjunction with the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum CD-ROM and a discussion of glass as an art medium. Find as many different uses of glass as possible.
Use as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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Stained Glass: Dan Barnes

Dan Barnes demonstrates his process of making works of stained glass designed to balance brilliant light and color with shapes and materials inspired by nature. Barnes also discusses the evolution of his work, from creating more traditional stained-glass pieces, such as Tiffany-style lamps, to employing various media, combining wood, metal, and light with the glass.
Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about the artist’s methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion. (See the “Making Art” section of the binder for activities that use this medium or are based on the artist’s ideas and approaches to art.)
Use in conjunction with a discussion of the purposes of art.
Compare and contrast the techniques and methods different artists use in their approach to the same medium. For example, compare Barnes’ work in glass to Stephen Powell’s in the “Glass” segment on Spectrum of Art. Or view with the Arturo Sandoval segment (also on Spectrum of Art). Barnes cites Sandoval as a teacher and inspiration. How might Sandoval’s work inspire Barnes?
Use as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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Metal Fabrication: Garry Bibbs

Stainless steel is literally one of the hardest media in which to work. Aside from being difficult to weld, grind, and manipulate, it requires an arduous, time-consuming process to turn it into a sculpture. Garry Bibbs understands these “tougher” qualities of his chosen medium, but says that he’s drawn to the material because of its beautiful surface. Bibbs discusses his background (he comes from a family of builders); his role as director of the University of Kentucky graduate sculpture program; and his influences and inspirations, including music, the history of civil rights leaders, and religion.

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about the artist’s methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion.
Use in conjunction with a discussion of the purposes of art.
Compare and contrast the techniques and methods different artists use in their approach to the same medium (e.g., other metal sculptors such as Ed Hamilton on Through Artists’ Eyes). Or compare and contrast how different media require different techniques and approaches (e.g., comparing artists who work in metal with artists who work in wood or glass).
Use as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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Forge: Ironhorse Forge

Long-time friends and University of Kentucky alumni Chris Casey and Tony Higdon describe how they founded Ironhorse Forge in Lexington to create one-of-a-kind functional iron pieces and sculpture. Casey demonstrates some of the techniques used at Ironhorse, which combine new technology with ancient methods to create high-quality metal furnishings and architectural elements.

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about the artists’ methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion.
Use in conjunction with a discussion of the functional versus expressive purposes of art.
Use to trace the evolution of an ancient art form into a contemporary art form.
Use as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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Stone: Russell Dawson

Russell Dawson describes his passion for working with stone to create both decorative and functional works of art. Explaining that he is drawn to the shape and weathered condition of stones, he then demonstrates his skills and understanding of the material, as expressed in the intricate walls, chimneys, walkways, patios, benches, and custom homes he has built in the Murray area. A self-taught stonemason, Dawson hopes his work culminates in a “celebration of nice rocks.”

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about the artist’s methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion. (See the “Making Art” section of the binder for activities that use this medium or are based on the artist’s ideas and approaches to art.)
Use in conjunction with a discussion of the purposes of art.
Compare and contrast Dawson’s approach to his art with Truman Lowe’s approach to art (the “Contemporary Native American Artist” and “At Wickliffe Mounds” segments on Visual Arts and Culture). Discuss in particular their use of natural materials and respect for tradition and the natural world.
Compare and contrast the techniques and methods different artists use in their approaches to the same medium. Or compare and contrast how different media require different techniques and approaches (e.g., comparing artists who work in stone with artists who work in wood or glass).
Use as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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Sand: Damon Farmer

Sand sculptor Damon Farmer describes how a vacation hobby has become a 30-year career of creating intricate works all over the world. In this profile, Farmer shows the various techniques and unconventional tools he has developed to create beautiful sculptures within the limitations of sand. He describes the process as seeing how far he can push the sculpture without making it collapse, always learning something new from each attempt.

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about the artist’s methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion.
Use in conjunction with a discussion of the purposes of art.
Damon Farmer’s art is transitory. Can students think of other transitory forms of art (e.g., Tibetan sand paintings, a live dance performance not captured on videotape, etc.)? Discuss what impact this might have on both the artist and the viewer.
Use this segment as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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Puppetry: Squallis Puppeteers

Jess Myers, Carrie Christensen, and Nora Christensen—the originators of Louisville’s Squallis Puppeteers theater company—discuss their backgrounds, provide some history of puppetry, and cite their sources of inspiration. Their creations use dramatic and visual art elements to explore political and social issues in public spaces. The three also give some background information regarding influences on their work, including Japanese bunraku puppet theater, Rjasthani puppetry from India, and the Bread & Puppet Theatre Company from Vermont.

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about the artists’ methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion. (See the “Making Art” section of the binder for activities that use this medium or are based on the artist’s ideas and approaches to art.)
Use in conjunction with a discussion of the purposes of art. What are students’ experiences with puppets: largely to entertain or, as in the case of Sesame Street, to teach basic skills? How is this similar or different to the intentions of the Squallis Puppeteers?
Compare and contrast the art of puppetry in various cultures, using the “Japan: Bunraku” segment on the Aspects of Drama DVD in the Drama Arts Toolkit, 2nd edition.
Use the segment as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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