Art students participate in sculpture contest


Caitlin McKeand, Co-Editor in Chief

The Earth Day 2018 sculpture contest was held earlier this May and announced it’s winners for the Renewable Planet theme April 19. Sculptures were judged based on creativity, interpretation of the theme, and the use of recycled materials, and there were three winners in each of the three categories: large exterior sculpture (more than three feet in height), interior sculpture (less than three feet in height), and wall hanging of any size. Four groups entered in from Tao Phan’s art classes and her art club’s group work was bought by The Leander Public Arts Commission for $500. Their work will be displayed in the Leander Parks and Recreation Office from April to May, including two giant wings crafted from cardboard and aluminum cans.

This is the second annual competition of this type. The competition was focused solely on sculpture, and all of the Leander high schools participated in the competition.

Sophomore Essa Garrett was one of the students who entered the contest with a wall hanging sea turtle sculpture made from plastic bottles, cardboard, plastic bags, tarp, and other objects she found.

“I love the beach and I also love turtles, so my inspiration geared towards how turtles are endangered because of the plastic in the ocean and on the shores,” Garrett said. “I hope people become aware of their impact on the world. Just because you can’t see where your trash goes, doesn’t mean it disappears. It does go somewhere, and I want people to have that in mind when they look at my work.”

The sculpture took Garrett about a month to make, but she was excited to be making it.

“When I saw the theme for the competition, I knew I wanted to do something like this. I had been thinking about doing an environmental piece for a while, so I was pretty excited when I saw the theme,” Garrett said. “I think [if I could have made anything] it would have been really cool to create a model of the globe and pinpoint where the ocean’s trash comes from and where it ends up”

Garrett believes that there will always be room for improvement when it comes to her work.

“I did not enjoy trying to get all the proportions right, that was a real pain,” Garrett said. “But I did really enjoy seeing everything come together because it really actually came together in the last two days.”

One group who won, consisting of juniors Chase Hilderbrand and Audrey Leeper found their inspiration from the artist Micaella Pedros, a woman who joins together plastic bottles and wood to make furniture When it came to using that inspiration, the group ran into some issues with putting it all together.

“First we cut the table legs wrong, so we had to use the plastic bottles to connect them because we cut them in the middle, which is not very structurally sound,” Hilderbrand said. “Then our resin didn’t mix properly, so it was gooey.”

The groups’ resin, a plastic-like substance that cools when hardened, wasn’t mixed properly and ended up creating a non-solid layer on the bottom and hardened on the top. Because of these structural problems, the group had to remake their sculpture.

“Overall, it was just a really fun process. We had never done anything like that, we’re in ceramics, so it was cool to build,” Leeper said. “I hope people take away something whimsy and every time they look at it they see something new or weird. I just hope they get a cool sense of curiosity or just joy from your sculpture.”

The group’s table for their exterior sculpture was given to them by the University of Texas.

“They cut up the table as it was already falling apart,” Phan said. “It was probably honestly a hazard having them work on it right outside.”

Phan and her students spent a chunk of time brainstorming what the theme meant with her students and walking them through possible ideas.

“I did not make this a mandatory project. I left it open to the student, so if they wanted to opt out of a project to work on this they could,” Phan said. “My role as their teacher was to encourage them to do the project and encourage them to be able to manipulate different materials as opposed to what we normally use in our sculpture class.”

For every winning entry, each LISD school of a winning student will be gifted $100 to be used by the school’s art department.