Upper School Fine Arts Teacher Brooke Williams was recently inspired by a single photo of an art exhibit and took a chance that her students could pull it off—and it worked. Sculpture I students pumped air into inflatable tubes (balloons) to create three separate abstract 3D sculptures in the currently-unused portion of Messing Gallery on the Upper School campus.
In Sculpture I, students are tasked with looking at all sides of their work when exploring three-dimensional space. The balloons provided a quick way for students to consider how they can design all sides of a piece and how the viewer might experience and interact with the work of art.
Artists gathered into three teams, and they had to figure out how to use the balloons to create a sculpture that works in the gallery space and on the display pedestals given to them. They started right away planning the piece and assigning roles to inflate and connect the balloons in ways they found interesting by twisting, turning, wrapping, weaving, and, at the same time, preventing the balloons from popping. They quickly learned that not fully inflating the balloon helped it expand so it could be twisted and bent into the desired shapes.
As they assembled their pieces, they had to keep in mind the elements and principles of design to optimize the viewer experience: contrast, balance, emphasis, movement, proportion, white space, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, pattern, unity, and variety.
Williams remarked, “I wasn’t sure how it would play out since it was on the spur of the moment. But, the students did a great job working with each other, and we are all are proud of what the teams created!”
Student art-builders commented on the experience:
“I really enjoyed the fact that it was very relaxed. We could build what we liked and what we were feeling at the time. I was surprised by how big of a system you could make with balloons.” – Eli Foss ’25
“I enjoyed the creative freedom we were given with this project. Working with no artistic boundaries, we were able to use our imaginations. It was fascinating to see all of the clever, original, and abstract sculptures made by our class.” – Hannah VanValkenburg ’25
“What I enjoyed was that there was not a right or wrong way on how to complete the project. I also liked how abstract we could be to create what was on our minds.” – Benjamin Gelven ’25
“I enjoyed working with my classmates because it was super fun blowing up the balloons and twisting them to make a cool sculpture. I think the most challenging part was that sometimes the balloons popped if we blew them up too much or if we twisted them too tight. I was very happy with what we created in the time that we had because it was actually pretty cool looking and it was a good opportunity to work with my friends and classmates. I think this was a perfect mini-project to see the different ways we could twist the balloons and make a sculpture.” – Leena Daud ’25
”This experience was very unique, and something I had never done before. I never thought about working with balloons to create interesting sculptures in the past, but I was pleasantly surprised with how our piece turned out.” – Emily Leyland ’25
“Something I enjoyed about this project was the creativity we were allowed to use while making it. I was surprised by the level of challenge there was when creating it mainly because of the difficulty to create interesting things out of the balloons.” – Noah Coen ’25
“I enjoyed that we did not have a set plan or requirements for the project. We just began blowing up balloons and putting them together. It was challenging finding a good dynamic so that no one felt left out, but at the same time, there was not one person doing everything. Overall I had fun and I am proud of what we made.” – Sebastian Peritore ’25
Great job, Sculpture I students, on creating these creative, albeit temporary, works of art!