From 2-D Visual Art to 3-D Buildings: Transforming University of Findlay’s campus with student artwork

By Kelsey Baughman

baughmank@findlay.edu

At the University of Findlay, COVID-19 has challenged college educators, but brought a new set of blue faces taped to Shafer Library. “The Blue Face Drawings”, created by ART 110 students, broke barriers with social distanced learning as well as provided a new “face” for future art education.

Behind “The Blue Face Drawings” and silhouettes that adorn the walls of the College of Business and Student Life (CBSL) are Valerie Escobedo, Associate Professor of Art and Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, and Spencer Cunningham, Instructor of Teaching in Art at the University of Findlay. When planning ART 110 2-D Visual Fundamentals of Art, both Escobedo and Cunningham wanted to revitalize the course by providing fun, exciting contemporary art practices.

“Art doesn’t always have to be perfect. We can laugh while we are making this and spend time with other people while making art,” Escobedo said.

Besides providing fun, interactive art experiences, Escobedo and Cunningham showcased student work with “The Blue Face Drawings” and silhouettes on UF’s campus like they never have before.

“We have the Lea Gallery in the Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion where we have Student Art Shows every year,” Escobedo said. “We also have student artwork that’s displayed in the Cave and the library, so we have places on campus where we exhibit student work. However, we have not done something like this for a group project.”

Naturally, once the tape drawings of the Blue Faces appeared, there was not only talk on campus, but the Blue Faces caught the attention of local news station ABC 13’s Action News in Toledo. But, what exactly are “The Blue Face Drawings”?

“The way that they (the blue faces) were made, students had to do a blind contour drawing. With a blind contour drawing, you can’t look at your paper while you draw,” Escobedo said. “The students sat and drew each other without looking at their paper and it had to be one continuous line.”

With using the blind contour technique, “The Blue Face Drawings” brought together students of every major to realize their own creativity.

“We didn’t have to worry if you could draw or if you couldn’t draw, you just had to do this thing and trust that it was going to work to put them up on the wall,” Escobedo said.

Josie Crowell, freshman Multi-Age Visual Arts Major at the University of Findlay, was one of the students who displayed their Blue Face masterpiece on the side of Shafer Library. Although Crowell has had a passion for art since her freshman year of high school, “The Blue Face Drawings” are something that are special to her.

“I’ve never had any of my art displayed anywhere, so this was exciting for me as well as the whole class since everyone’s art was displayed on Shafer. I think that more art like this should be displayed around campus because putting art in a public space allows other people to enjoy it as well rather than just a class,” Crowell said.  

Besides “The Blue Face Drawings” on the side of Shafer Library, various silhouettes decorate the first floor of CBSL to further display the work and talent of ART 110 students. For this specific project, Escobedo and Cunningham recruited a staff member from another department to inspire students.

“Meriah Sage from the Theater Department came over for one of the classes, too, and took them through some movement exercises to express or tell a story physically through their movements to help spark some ideas,” Escobedo said.

After being inspired by Sage’s movement exercises, ART 110 students were formed into groups and with one student striking a pose, standing close to a wall with a black paper, and a bright light beaming on them, other students traced their shadow to not only create a silhouette, but a story that was close to them.

Robbie Riffle, junior Theatre Production and Performance Double Major and Art Minor at the University of Findlay, has also been involved with art since early elementary school. However, the creation of the silhouettes provided a memorable learning experience for Riffle.

“This project has shown me what it takes to make art happen, such as the process and the making of art,” Riffle said in an email interview. “I think learning this process will help me in my future classes in the art program, and further my ideas and insight into my own artwork.” 

Additionally, the Silhouette Project provided ART 110 students an opportunity to spread happiness. For Riffle and his group for the Silhouette Project, they questioned how they could tell a hopeful story in a time where hope is needed. Out of the group’s question rose their Silhouette creation of giving something good to someone that is sad.

Through providing students with multiple, hands-on art experiences, Escobedo, Cunningham, and ART 110 students are transforming the University of Findlay’s campus to feature student art work as well as provide a sense of hope, happiness, and excitement during the challenges of COVID-19. Stay tuned to see what Escobedo, Cunningham, and future ART 110 students create in Spring 2021.

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