At the end of last semester, before summer break, I assigned a project for my students with the idea to create an art installation in my classroom. It seemed simple enough: they would take black and white portraits of their hands and I would assemble the prints together in a fashion inspired by an artist I stumbled across, Annette Messager.
The students did a great job of using props and hand gestures to be able to create dynamic and creative expressions. I was blown away at their excitement for the idea and how much they got into it. I received so many more submissions than I expected, especially because it was an optional assignment and I wasn’t giving them a grade.
All in all, between 6 classes of 25-30 students, I ended up with around 250 images. My initial plan was to purchase small plastic frames and use twine to hang them from pushpins on a wall of my classroom, but that idea quickly got shoved to the side when I realized how costly the frames were and and how unhappy our facilities director would be with me when he discovered all the tiny holes in the drywall.
My next idea was to use unfinished wood frames that I would spray paint black, but again, finding bulk solutions on the cheap was proving to be no less cost effective. I was close to giving up on my initial plan when I realized that I didn’t actually need frames, I just needed something that would look like a frame and give the photos a little more substance. I found a very nice vendor on Etsy that was willing to send me cardstock die-cut paper frames in black for a very reasonable price.
The last dilemma I faced was how to hang these things without destroying school property and after a long conversation with an artist friend of mine, we agreed that finding something that I could hang the framed images from was better than poking hundreds of holes in the wall. We tossed out several ideas including plywood, foam core and even a large empty frame, before settling on a piece of a limb that had fallen from a tree nearby our home.
Slowly but surely, I’ve been making progress on our art installation. There are some weeks where I don’t add any pictures, but I’m determined to finish it by the end of the semester. I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to do it – I’m more than halfway finished – and I have former students pop in to check my progress on a regular basis.
Stringing it along – Angie