By Kelly Sullivan
In Rob Beishline’s Art 116, students are able to explore the different ways of working with space and balance in three dimensional art.
“I think overall it can be fun,” said Beishline. “It can be challenging.”
The class has four big projects they complete each quarter: a relief sculpture, a wire project, a mobile and, this year, a handmade bag, the first time Beishline implemented a more expressive project.
All four pieces were recently represented in a display case in Heiner Hall.
“I try to focus on the language of 3-D art,” said Beishline. “We focus on formal concepts, such as form and composition.”
The class is about learning the basics, and understanding the vocabulary for each assignment is very important. The relief sculpture “works with structure and the idea of open and closed forms,” Beishline said. Students were to reflect their understanding of these terms in their pieces.
The structure of the class doesn’t allow for a lot of interpretation outside of the boundaries of the project, said Beishline. He noted that some students venture outside the guidelines for their different creations.
For example, one of his past students, when working on the relief sculpture, didn’t emphasize the differences between positive and negative space as was the theme of the project.
She still produced a beautiful piece of art, he said, but she needed a little more guidance to make sure she understood the concepts after she turned the project in.
Holding up two photographs of the same project but different students who followed the guidelines more closely, Beishline commented on how different the energy is coming off of each piece.
This winter the students were asked to create a sea creature from wire. Alysha Earl spent hours working on a giant Hermit crab, which can actually be detached from its giant outer shell. Others included an elaborate octopus and an intricate squid.
“In the end they have a piece they can keep, pass on, feel good about,” said Beishline.
Beishline said the more he teaches the projects, the better he becomes at doing just that. However, the handbags he asked the students to make this year also had very good results. He told the students to make a bag that “held something very important to them inside.” Two of the final products were placed into the display case.
Robert Harley used to be in the Coast Guard and incorporated many of the knots he learned into the design of the bag, while Brittany Anderson, who works at the Bellingham Airport, collects abandoned luggage tags and zippers, and used them to decorate the outside of her bag.
“Those projects have a lot more meaning,” said Beishline.
Currently there is no class fee, but Beishline is considering presenting to the board the idea of incorporating one as a requirement to keep costs down, which he generally tries to do anyway.
The materials are pretty basic: wire, needle-nosed pliers, tag board.
However, “students find a way to express themselves through the assignment,” said Beishline. “That always surprises me, how unique each of the pieces feel.”