Artist’s Corner: New project allows sculpture students to repurpose books

Sculpture Students get creative through Book Sculpting

Malcolm Mehr uses a book to create a relaxing scene by a lake.

Mrs. Cann

Malcolm Mehr uses a book to create a relaxing scene by a lake.

If you were given a single book and told to create anything out of it, what would you make? Would it be a house? Maybe a forest? How about an animal? The options are limitless. A little creativity can go a long way and that is exactly what West’s Sculpture Class is teaching their students.

Stunning works throughout history have lead many to think that art is only for a select few: the people who are gifted with artistic ability. Mrs. Cann, the Sculpture class teacher, emphasizes how students all have creativity, and that anyone can create art.

The latest project in Sculpting challenged students to create their own work of art out of books. There was little instruction as to how to go about this and overall the project was left solely to the interpretation of the student.

Mrs. Cann pointed out that this project was assigned to help students expand their creativity. She explains, “With any project in any art class, I want my students to expand their creative problem solving skills.” She further says that most of her students had never sculpted using books, making the project even more of a challenge.

Part of what makes book sculpting difficult is that it is a fairly modern art form. There are plenty of examples of book sculptures online, however there are very few famous pieces for students or any artist to use as examples.

Senior Ali Koch shared her own inspiration for her project: “My inspiration was mostly the photos. I took all the photos myself and I wanted to add my photography to it to make it personal.”

Ali Koch creates a unique depiction of various scenery.
Mrs. Cann
Ali Koch creates a unique depiction of various scenery.

Many of the Sculpturing students found an image online that looked interesting and then used it as their baseline for what they wanted to create. Artists have been attracted to this type of art form partially because of the vast amount of room for interpretation and also for the ability for them to try something very different and unique. As Koch put it, “You really get to stretch your imagination and make something out of nothing.”

Trial and error occurs often with students trying out different ways to make their sculptures hold together or look right. Through these mistakes, the students learn and change their methods in the future. While there are basic rules of thumb for book sculpting, for the most part the artist learns from experimentation. When something doesn’t work, the artist adjusts to the problem and then figures out a new way to create what they had imagined.

Mrs. Cann emphasized that the project was a lot about creative problem solving. “Whether you become an accountant, teacher, magician, etc., you will be forced to think creatively when it comes to problem solving.”

Sophomore Malcolm Mehr describes his own experience with this class so far, saying “I wanted to take this class because I love working on projects, and my mind is always spinning with new ideas. Sculpture is definitely a class that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in hands on projects, a great work environment, and an awesome teacher.”

Many students believe that taking an art class is not for them because they are not planning on going into a fine arts major or they are just not artistic. The most important lesson from art is that there is no right or wrong answer. Art (and any fine arts class) is there to help students understand how to creatively come up with solutions. As Mrs. Cann had said before, creativity and flexibility is an important characteristic to have for a job.

Mehr shedd his own light on this idea, stating, “Being creative or having creative ideas is a great trait. There is no such thing as not creative enough or too creative. All creativity is awesome.”

So, whether you have artistic ability or not, get involved with art if you get the chance. Art is about interpretation and overall there are so many unique and interesting areas of art for students to choose from. Sculpting is just one place to start, but there are plenty of other options to get involved. Ceramics and Photography have been popular in the past, but there are many more ways to get involved in art at West.