Categorized | Arts & Culture

The Paper Sculpture Club

In the ’80s, director John Hughes created an iconic movie about the differences of five teens spending a Saturday in detention: the athlete, the princess, the rebel, the brain and the basket case. Each person had a distinct personality and brought a unique perspective to an undesirable situation. While under lock-down and guarded by their neurotic principal, “The Breakfast Club” members each had the task of writing an essay about who they think they are.[birds]
The scenario is reminiscent of an evening that took place recently in the Art Museum at MSU. Many people with different tastes, personalities and perspectives came to “The Paper Sculpture Show” to create something they think is art.
“The Paper Sculpture Show” is an interactive exhibit at the museum to involve the community in the making and presentation of “art.” Art is a broad term and is classified in many ways, depending on who you’re talking to. In this case, art is what the public created out of 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of paper designed by various artists. Museum goers took the paper, glue, tape and scissors and created their art. By doing so, participants left a piece of their personalities on display for all to see. In a sense, they left a part of “who they think they are.”
Five people in particular descended upon the exhibit. All are quite different from each other. Michelle Mercer, a nutritional sciences junior who describes herself an “not creative” and right brained; Nicole Bush, an interdisciplinary studies senior with a quirky personality and outbursts of random behavior involving sprawling on the ground unexpectedly; Daniel Lewis, an English junior music buff who can be seen walking around campus with his huge headphones blaring the latest music you’ve never heard of; Adam Sprangel, a hospitality business senior who spends many weekends catering gourmet food to the members of the Varsity Club; and Dustin Voss, a hospitality business senior who runs cross country and track for MSU and always gets in a quick joke. Adam and Dustin were the most alike of the group, sharing the same major, willingness to goof around and their routine of getting wings on Thursday nights. Despite their busy schedules and different lives, the gang attended the exhibit.[daniel]
The five arrived at the museum independently of each other. They took some time to look at the sculptures already created. With the exhibit’s unique nature, it is difficult for one to get a sense of how “The Paper Sculpture Show” works. One oddity included an entire wall of the museum filled with paper bird cut-outs. “It is the bird wall. It’s a staff project,” museum worker and art history junior Erin McCue said. “We want to fill the whole wall. We’re getting close and we have one more week.”
“I liked the manipulation of the guy’s face,” Daniel said of a particular paper patterned with various expressions of a man. “I thought the sculptures would be bigger, not sheets of paper. It wasn’t what I expected.” The exhibit wasn’t what Michelle expected either. “I thought it would be more like, ‘Here’s some paper, go to work.’ It was more organized,” she said. After preconceived notions were put aside, the group gathered their materials and went to work.
The Breakfast Club’s task was mandated by the spiteful high school principal, Richard Vernon, referred to as “Dick” by the rebel of the group. At the Art Museum, there was no Dick Vernon present, but The Paper Sculpture Club took the task of creating “art” along the same lines The Breakfast Club would have. There was a lot of laughing at each other, inappropriate joking and hesitation to create their art (although no cold cuts were thrown around). But by the end, they each created something different from each other and unique to the exhibit.
Dustin chose to modify the man’s face by substituting his eyes for naked women; Adam created a long box resembling a catering platter with the eyes Dustin discarded attached to the end engaged in an unblinking stare. Nicole used fancy scissor skills to cut the straight paper edges curvy and stood her creation upright into a bowl-like structure. Daniel created a “two-page flip book” for a poem he created on the spot. “It was more of a to-do list that I made rhyme,” Daniel said. “The design on the sculpture looked like notebook paper so I went from there.” Michelle had a little trouble envisioning her creation. “I don’t know what it was (that I made),” she said. “I took stuff from different artists’ designs and taped them together. There was no thought process.”
“The Paper Sculpture Show” experience concludes with hanging the new creations on the walls or placing it on a table display. Dustin and Adam finished first. They laid their art work on the table display before heading out for their beloved buffalo wings. Nicole and Daniel also chose the table display. Breaking stride with the others, Michelle hung her work on the wall.[people]
The experience was over and the group went back to their individual routines. Had this been truly akin to The Breakfast Club movie, the practical Michelle would have created a group manifesto of “who they think they are,” while the jokester Dustin and untamable Nicole would have shared an intimate lip-lock. But for one afternoon at “The Paper Sculpture Show,” five individuals came together, interacted with each other in an unusual environment and left a piece of themselves behind for others to see. In the movie, Dick Vernon justified his mandate of the assignment by saying “Maybe you’ll learn something about yourselves.” Perhaps “The Paper Sculpture Show” allowed Vernon’s justification. The hospitality business majors Dustin and Adam learned they could enjoy a twist on their set Thursday night routine, while the rambunctious Nicole found her more tranquil, sentimental side by stating she won’t come back to pick up her creation. “I don’t want to have to part with it. I want to think it’s in the museum forever.” The musically-absorbed Daniel discovered the connection between his passion for art and its relationship with academics. “The arts are important. They flesh out the campus and MSU’s entire feel,” he said. “Arts give more legitimacy to academics.” Last but not least, the science-inclined Michelle learned she could create art in her own way. “My classes are more problem-solving where there is a definite right and wrong answer,” she said. “Art isn’t like that. I had a good time.”[michelle]
In one short span of time, each person revealed a side of themselves they don’t usually publicize or didn’t even know they had. They trickled out of the museum in similar fashion to how “The Breakfast Club” left detention. After a Saturday of lock-down, the characters thought they’d be running for the parking lot. Instead they found themselves moving at a slower pace, taking time to observe the unexpected moment one last time. As “The Paper Sculpture Show” gang went their separate ways, I think their impressions of each other and perceptions of themselves were altered for a moment. Life can’t imitate art all the time — only once in a while, if you’re lucky enough to realize it. That day, a group of individuals took an opportunity to learn something about art. In the process, they discovered qualities about themselves, the museum and each other.

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