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February 15, 2013


Travis hangs ‘kids’ on the walls


Mineral Wells ISD trustees heard from Travis Elementary sixth-grade art students Brittany Swindle and Karissa Smith about an innovative art project, adorning the outside of the school walls with kid-sized, clear-tape sculptures.

Art teachers Debra Strandberg and Skipper Bennett again undertook a large-scale outdoor sculpture project; some may recall the horse sculptures students made about four years ago of branches, inspired by artist Deborah Butterfield.

Travis students know art is not just painting. In fact, as students explained to the school board, the medium can be a roll of clear packing tape.

For this project, the inspiration was artist Mark Jenkins. His packing-tape sculpture installation include animals and small children hanging or growing from trees, hanging onto sculptures and in various whimsical poses in cities.

To make the sculptures, students worked together to photograph each other in the poses they wanted for their sculpture. Then they transferred their poses onto large cardboard cutouts that would serve as the armature for their sculpture.

They made their forms have depth by separating two cardboard cutouts with plastic drink cups. Once they had the form, students wrapped packing tape, sticky side out, around the entire shape. The following layers had the sticky side facing inward and created the shell.

Students cut the sides of their sculpture and pulled out the cardboard and cups. They then reapplied packing tape to seal the slits and the sculpture was complete.

Today, the Travis art students' sculptures are installed on the outside walls, connected with wire and masonry nails. Students and the community are encouraged to see the see-through works, which change their appearance at different times of the day and in varying light.

But that wasn't all the art teachers and students had to report. Art is big at Travis, and to show the district, the school installed a special display in the District Services Center board room to showcase up to 14 changing artworks by students.

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