When Art Fundamentals Professor Leslie Sasaki challenged his class to create a collective piece of art for their ‘found colour’ assignment, little did he know that the result would be a beautiful reflection of school spirit.
“The assignment is given around week six of the program, which is structured as a one-year certificate,” says Sasaki. “It comes after the first few weeks of formal study in which we teach colour mixing, vocabulary, and practice judging relationships between colour.”
Sasaki’s team of 30 students, which he has since nicknamed “the A Team”, celebrated the end of their first foray into the formal study of colour with a challenge from their professor – create a piece of art that doesn’t use any paint, markers or other traditional art supplies. Instead, the students had to construct a piece made solely from everyday objects that represent each of the 12 hues of the colour wheel, which they first had to find, gather, sort and assemble.
“We want to show students that colour exists in the world and that you can play with it,” explains Sasaki. Students also learn about artists who have built successful careers working with this medium. Sasaki talks about Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang who beachcomb Point Reyes National Seashore, California and collect pieces of washed up plastic. The found objects are then curated into different formats and photographed. The pictures the pair sells are as much a statement on environmental stewardship as they are works of artistic beauty.
“It’s the students who generate the ideas. My job is to pull back, set the framework, ask the right questions and let them take charge” – Professor Leslie Sasaki
Sasaki’s class brought in everything from building blocks to toy cars, accessories, body wash, buttons, string, ribbon and origami. Step one was a dumping of everyone’s treasure and sorting out the palette. Next, the group discussed how they wanted to use the colour. Would they create a piece organized around harmonies learned in class or one that was based on random bursts? Finally the group had to decide on the shape that the piece would take. “It’s the students who generate the ideas,” says Sasaki. “My job is to pull back, set the framework, ask the right questions and let them take charge.”
When the group decided that they’d be making a shape, he thought they might lean toward making a student silhouette. “Someone said ‘how about the Sheridan S?’” After that, Sasaki recalls a lot of excitement and chatter as the idea gained traction. “What they created really is theirs,” he says.
The group made quick work of the project, first googling the ‘S’ to create a pattern, upon which they laid out the found colour objects in a rough draft. Some stepping back, reflection and tweaking ensued before the students were divided into glue gun teams who each tackled a different piece of the creation. “After that the cameras came out and the students all started taking selfies with their work of art.”
Students then installed the work in Sheridan’s art pit, where it was displayed for 10 days, so that others could enjoy it as well. “Hopefully we can find a more permanent home for it,” says Sasaki. “I’m proud of what my students accomplished. It really is a beautiful piece.”
Pictured at top of page: Art Fundamentals project with Professor Sasaki (left) and one of his students
Written by: Christine Szustaczek, Director of Communications and External Relations at Sheridan.