Inflatable sculptures let out last breath
For some Santa Monica College students, the last objects they viewed before leaving on spring break were large amorphous figures on the quad lawn. A large black cube next to the Humanities and Social Sciences building. A hall of human forms next to the fountain. A wooden frame supporting a limp, pale form.
This wasn’t the setup of some sci-fi movie, it was art.
Art professor Emily Silver’s three dimensional design class has been erecting large inflatable sculptures on the quad for the three years she’s been teaching at SMC.
“Every time they get much more involved,” said Silver. “The students thought about the interiors and exteriors and how they related to the public.”
This will likely be her last all-day class exhibit as she is moving on from SMC to a full-time position.
Ivette Hernandez is a fashion design major and a student in Silver’s class who is thinking about switching to art. She, like many other students, saw Silver’s classes inflatable sculptures in prior semesters and was won over.
“I signed up for this class to do these inflatables,” said Hernandez. “There was a panda last semester; there was a woman’s legs.” Her current project was a cloud, wired to leak water onto the lawn.
The students make their sculptures using materials such as plastic drop cloth, tape, and fans in order to keep the structures standing. There are other 3D design classes but Silver is the only one who offers this project in her curriculum.
“The art department is over there tucked away and it’s important for them to be able to come over here and talk about their work, show their work, interact with people who don’t get to see artwork every day,” said Silver. “And I think it really brings the students together and it’s what SMC likes to do, create community.”
Aside from the art students that entered and explored the black cube maze or the shell room, which contained two inflatable seats and a table with cookies, other departments were invited to participate. During the daytime, a photography class worked on lighting shots with reflectors with students and their art as subjects.
At night, for their regular class time, students from the theatre arts department gave performances to add more contextual layers to a jellyfish sculpture draped off of the HSS building as students inside peeked out of the window.
“It really crosses boundaries,” said Silver. “That’s important for us to be crossing boundaries and borders on campus.”
Silver initially wasn't aware of the procedures of which to follow when hosting an event on campus. After the first event, she started planning the showcase a month in advance, filling out facilities requests and making sure to plan around campus events such as Club Row.
Sean Chandler, one of Silver’s students, had many things to say about the experience.
“It was very interesting having one of the only tiny sculptures, thinking that fifteen feet would be massive, to find out we were one of the smallest," said Chandler. "Every person here is invested and pores themselves into the class, is extremely sociable, and the experience on each person is so different.”