When architecture professor Hector LaSala challenged his students with a project to build life-size portraits of themselves out of garbage, he didn’t know what to expect. His instructions included the preamble to the United States Constitution and a requirement to use cast-off elements. “It was a combination of coming up with who you are and the need to make something beautiful out of garbage,” says LaSala. “There is so much waste in our lives. In the future, that waste will need to be used. This was our chance to encounter the future now.”
The students responded with sculptures of such high artistic value that LaSala called Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum curator Lee Gray to schedule a show. “It is strong enough to fill the big gallery,” says Gray. The pieces join a long tradition of modern sculpture that echoes the works of such artists as Degas, Magritte, Giacometti, and Butterfield — both in gesture and by the elements of their composition.
Students used a vast palate of materials — scrap aluminum, Plexiglas, bamboo, wire, bicycle parts, motherboards, hoses, crab nets, a mailbox, sponges, vines, corks, fabric, car parts and driftwood to create boxers, dancers and musicians. Many of the works incorporate elements of the made and natural world interwoven, such as a maiden constructed of aluminum mesh and dried reeds, or a new father holding an infant. The father’s loins are fashioned from a dictionary, the child’s brain a sea sponge.
The artwork’s first rate, and the exhibit showcases the enormous talent in the student body in UL’s Art and Architecture school, as well as the creative leadership of the faculty. With only three more weeks to run, it’s well worth the effort to take a trip to the beautiful blue-lit museum on St. Mary Boulevard.
Image and text by the Independent Weekly, USA