Art Students Lend Perspective to Creative Living Community
Sept. 7, 2017
SHSU Media Contact: Teddi Cliett
Story by Teddi Cliett
Tony Shipp, associate professor of art at Sam Houston State University, has a hands-off approach to teaching. In his recent summer sculpture course, students weren’t bound to classroom walls or syllabus guidelines, but instead were tasked to create one of the newest sculptures on campus entirely by themselves.
The towering metal figure holding a sweeping paintbrush, which sits at the entry of the Belvin-Buchanan Fine Arts and Mass Communication Creative Community, couldn’t have come to life without the creativity and collaborative work of Shipp’s eight students, many of whom had never welded or worked with the given materials before.
“Everyone played an important role in creating this sculpture,” sophomore Nia Mason said. “We all watched demos on how to work each machine and had to practice welding before assembling the final piece. I worked on measurements for our wood templates, grinding and sanding the metal and welding pieces together.”
Shipp knew when he approached Ronald Shields, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication, with the idea to create sculptural representations of the five FAMC departments that the class would need to be small in size and big in collaboration. What he wasn’t expecting was to be so impressed with the students who showed up.
“It was so much fun because they were such a good group of kids,” Shipp said. “As a teacher, when you have a really good group of kids, it isn’t work anymore because it’s so fun.”
While Shipp guided the students and taught them the technical skills needed to cut and assemble the sculpture, the group of eight had total creative control over what the project became.
Students’ field of study ranged from photography to graphic design, which allowed the class to play to each individual’s diverse strength, creating the best piece possible.
“Strangely, my favorite part was working with the other members of the class on the project as a team,” junior Kevin Wrice said. “Normally I hate group work, and often find that I feel like I'm being held back by others on team projects, but this was not the case with this class. It felt like everyone was bringing their best, and it made every day of the few weeks we had together enjoyable.”
Even though Shipp’s main concern was not knowing if the project would be complete before the end of the course, after just a few weeks of working (and then reworking), the sculpture, which Shipp titled “A Generous Perspective,” was in place to greet students as they returned to campus.
“We were definitely tired after weeks of working, but nothing felt better than sitting back in awe of something we created,” Mason said.
“A Generous Perspective” representing art, visually expresses one of the five departments that comprise FAMC. Shipp plans to continue conducting classes in the future to create sculptural expressions of dance, theatre and musical theatre, mass communication and music.
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