Inflatable pillow sparks interactive take on art


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Adjunct art professor Catherine Cowen tapes materials together during an Art 102 class project on April 10.

By Daniel Hernandez, Advocate Staff

Art can come in all kinds of arrangements and configurations and people give depth to art with their interpretations.

However, one class takes the extra step when it comes to interpreting art by physically interacting with it.

Adjunct art professor Catherine Cowen teaches her Art 102 (3D Foundations) class about making art and working with it in a new dimension by getting creative and thinking outside of the box.

“It’s about getting students who have mostly never worked in sculpture to develop three-dimensional thinking. Hopefully it gets them to think about their conceptual content and how engaging their view is,” Cowen said.

She tries to incorporate a variety of materials to stimulate their minds when it comes to creating new ways to make sculptures.

Art major Ervine Nhan said, “Most art that we do is two-dimensional, it’s flat. We’re getting an understanding of space and working in the real-world structure.”

They are putting together an inflatable as a part of their next art piece which will be the third project the class works on.

In the past they have done individual pieces, but for many students this will be a first time doing a major art presentation.

Before, students worked with conventional sculpture materials such as clay and cardboard, but working with an inflatable will bring its own new approach in putting it together.

They had two days of preparation to do the measurements and cutting.

“Plastic material with duct tape and measuring stuff, that’s literally it,” Nhan said. They will use an air blower to inflate the art once it’s ready.

The students were broken up into two groups. One group focused on building the main structure, while the other put together the tunnel where the air blower will feed into the structure.

Azarea Joas is a student who is studying interior architecture and worked on the tunnel team. “We were cutting and taping, making sure the measurements were right,” Joas said.

The tunnel was an important component to the entire piece. Everything had to be attached properly so that the presentation wouldn’t lapse.

By late afternoon, the class joined the two pieces together and carried out the inflatable to the open area north of the Art Building.

Shortly after, the air blower was attached and within a minute the inflatable took its shape into a gigantic pillow. A student used a blade cutter to make a vertical slit so that 10 students could wiggle though the plastic. Once inside, the students sat down and took in the light breeze for the next 10 minutes.

Art major Fred McElroy described it as “being inside of a (bouncy house), only the bottom part was flat and it was nice. It was relaxing. We got a cool breeze coming in. The setting helped too with it being sunny.”

He said it felt as though all the hard work paid off. However the piece was only a demo for what’s next to come. The class will divide into three groups that will put together their own creative inflatable pieces.

“They’ll be using the same materials, but they will also focus on some things like paint, sound and maybe music projections,” Cowen said.

The students will be presenting their inflatables on April 24.