Walk through the entryway into the Langroise Center for the Performing & Fine Arts and you’ll see a pencil sitting atop a pencil sharpener.
A really, really big pencil and a really, really big pencil sharpener. You’ll also see a wine opener, a pizza cutter, a huge box of noodles, and a pair of glasses with its case. Those items, along with some others, are part of Stephen Fisher’s May-term Sculpture (Art 251) class.
“I have been doing some large-scale projects with my class to take advantage of social distancing with the extra space between students and encourage them to work bigger in that extra space,” said Fisher, an art professor who specializes in hands-on art like sculpture and ceramics. “Also, because I have students online, I have been trying to get students to take advantage of common and easily accessible materials like paint, fabric, cardboard, and Styrofoam that don’t require a lot of tools or equipment. Last, I wanted to do a project that encourages humor and some of these are quite funny.”
Students found inspiration for the project in different places. Junior Jack Kincaid went to his family roots to find his.
“My family is British, so we have Heinz baked beans on toast often,” said Kincaid, who is double-majoring in art & design as well as computer science. “I guess, here, that’s not a thing you do.”
Senior Kiersten Lancaster also went to her family roots – and food – for her creation.
“Really, I wanted to make blueberries, then I thought, ‘what can you put with blueberries?’” the art & design and exercise science double-major explained. “I really enjoy pancakes, so I thought let’s make a pancake.”
Lancaster married her appreciation of blueberries with a long-held family tradition of quilting as she sewed the blueberries and pancake together using a practice called soft-sculpting. Kincaid also thought outside of the box to finish his project.
“It was really fun to make,” he said. “The beans were interesting because, after I painted them, you couldn’t really tell what they were anymore, which is old t-shirts.”
The colorful creations were meant to showcase the talents of Fisher’s students, even though the campus is quieter than usual due to COVID restrictions. Fisher said about half of his students are completing the class online, rather than in person.
“The project assignment was to take a common object and dramatically increase the scale, to human scale,” Fisher said. “The idea is based on the work of Claes Oldenburg who started doing work like this in galleries in the 1960s and has since been designing large outdoor sculptures with his late wife Coosje van Bruggen.”
For the students, it was an opportunity to have fun and get creative.
“The project was supposed to be really big, so I was thinking, with Styrofoam, I could get a ‘toast’ texture,” Kincaid said.
Lancaster marveled at the creativity of her classmates and mentioned how much fun she had completing the creation.
“I really like the blueberries,” she said with a laugh. “They are my favorite.”
The College of Idaho has a 130-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.