Sewickley Academy students turn painter's tape into art
As part of an effort to get students thinking differently about what it means to create art, Sewickley Academy art teacher L.K. Sleat gave them painter's tape and told them to get to work.
“We're challenging the canon of traditional drawing,” Sleat said. “The students are learning that there are more ways to draw than using pencil and paper.”
The tape creations have taken shape all over the private Edgeworth school's Oliver Building and Senior School on walls, in corners and on ceilings and floors.
The Senior School students in Sleat's Drawing and Painting II class already have taken Drawing I with her, so they have some foundation in art and drawing. Most of them already have figured out what kind of artist they might want to be.
“They have an understanding of principles of design,” she said.
Sleat said the idea was inspired by the work of Polish artist Monika Grzymala, whose two- and three-dimensional tape creations have been featured at galleries around the world, including a 2011 installation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. One such exhibition used 27,000 feet of tape.
Student Haley Nocito, who hopes to pursue a career in graphic design, said Grzymala's work was fascinating to her. “From this tape art project I have learned how to bring together ideas and create them in three dimensional ways,” she wrote in an email. “Never working with unconventional tools before, this project has been really fun in learning a new style of art.”
Nocito worked with her classmate Sarah Brown and even though they sketched out their ideas, the pair ended up creating something entirely different than they had planned, Brown says.
“It was interesting to ‘draw in space' with the tape, and we were constantly stepping back to take a look at our project and conceptualize new ideas,” she wrote in an email. “Overall, I think this project really helped me realize that art is constantly evolving based on new ideas.”
Sleat, who is new to Sewickley Academy this year, previously taught at Westminster School in Atlanta and the Maryland Institute College of Art.
“I just fell in love with these kids,” she says, and adds she was surprised by how much she was drawn to the Pittsburgh area.
She said this is the second time she's done a tape-drawing project with students, noting that it's interesting what an observer can learn about the student-artist from the different tape structures.
“You can look at the work and see which students like math,” she says. “The kids have been surprised by how complex their designs are, and how some of the work can become like optical illusions.”
For students, Sleat hopes the tape projects inspire them to take a different approach to art and drawing, and really think about how the medium they choose, whether it's a pencil or tape or a tree branch, contributes to the work. She said she's already seen students reconsider their own work based on the reaction from others.
“Since it's all over the school, now it's public art and they're being approached by other students,” she said.
Kim Lyons is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.