Category Archives: The Great Pretender

The Great Pretender

Art Final

November 5, 2012, by

For our final project in Kinetic Movement (Art), our goal was to design a piece of art that resembled a natural element in the way it moved.  My element was air, and I made a wind turbine.  We did this by first creating a blue print of what we wanted our art piece to look like.  I include the size, materials I would use, and how it would move.  Look below to see a video of my wind turbine in action!


November 4, 2012

Wind Turbine

Wood, Glue, & Spray Paint



This piece is about embracing my element, Air and incorporating it into kinetic art.  I did this by starting out with picking a moving object, I picked a turbine.  We then made a blueprint mapping out all of the details of our soon to be piece of art, including measurements, materials, how it will move, etc.


This piece represents both how wind moves, and how a falcon takes flight (my power animal).   My object embraces wind in the way it moves and flow, and embraces a falcon in the path it takes.


I made this piece by getting a large stick to hold the wind turbine, I then used wood for the wings with cups on the end of the wood.  The cups pick up the wind and get projected forward which makes the turbine spin.  I then made final touches like reinforcing the wings and painting it to make it look more ascetically pleasing.

Power Animal Kinetic Sculpture- BR

October 8, 2012, by

Our art class created kinetic sculptures because we studied an abundance of different artists who based most of their artwork on the movements of animals. One artist we focused most of our attention on was Theo Jensen, the creator of these huge kinetic sculptures that move all on their own when the wind blows them. A question we were told to think about and later answer was “how does nature inspire and power movement?” The first step to answering this question was figuring out what our power animals were. After doing countless IChing tests I figured out that my power animal was a spider, and my two natural elements are earth and air. My favorite part about this project was doing the IChing tests because it was interesting to read the definitions that went along with each element. I’m most proud of the kinetic sculpture I made because even though it hurt my fingers a lot to make I finished it, and the three linear paths of movement represent the way a spider would move.

Three Linear Paths Representing a Spider's Movement

Date Completed: September 2012
Title: The Spider and It’s Web
Materials Used: Clay, Cardboard. and Wire
Size: 15”W x 13”L x 10.7”H

Artist Statement:


Explain the concept/idea behind the piece: The concept behind this piece was to get a better understanding of what kinetic sculptures are and how they move on there own. Also learning how to connect the movements from machines/sculptures to animals.

What is the piece about?
This piece is supposed to represent the patterns of movement while a spider is making a web.

How did you get to the final concept/idea?I figured out that my spirit animal was most likely a spider and I decided that the most interesting movements a spider makes is the one it makes while it designing it’s home (web.)

What do the parts of the piece represent? The colored clay represents my elements that I discovered while taking the IChing test (Earth and Air) and the wire represents the three linear paths of movement a spider makes while making a web. The beads are the part of sculpture that make it kinetic.


Explain the technical/hands on process behind creating the piece (How did you build the piece?):I had to bend each wire into a different path of movement, then taking the colored clay I had to stick it to the cardboard making sure you couldn’t seen any of the surface. Lastly I formed beads that would be able to move back and forth on the wire.

Nature -> Humans -> Machines Kinetic Sculpture by HM

October 2, 2012, by

This week in my class The Great Pretender, we completed our first Project as Action.  For this project, we created a piece that had 3 tracks which were inspired by our power animals.   The tracks of my piece were inspired by the way elephants move.  From there, I found a machine and human action that had a similar movement.  For my machine, I chose a wrecking ball and for my human action I chose the “1, 2, 3 Swing.  1, 2, 3 Swing” movement of parents/adults swinging a young child by holding their hands and lifting them up – creating a more or less human swing set.  The process of this project was a pretty long one because we had to first find our power animal and then understand how they move.  The biggest aspect of our animal we focused on was a trait they held and how the actions that show that and finally how it related to and resonated with us.  We used the ICHING to help find our power animal, went to the zoo to see them in action, and created a flip book to best understand their movement.  Patience, attention to detail, and accepting things that aren’t perfect are what I learned the most from this project.




September 2012


14.5 x 12.5 x 42.5

Cardboard, wire, and clay


The tracks of this piece were inspired by the way elephants move.  From there, I found a machine and human action that had a similar movement.  For my machine, I chose a wrecking ball and for my human action I chose  “1, 2, 3 Swing” (a game when parents or adults swing a young child by holding their hands and lifting them up, creating a more or less human swing set)

We began this process with learning about the term power animal.  We referred to the ICHING to learn about elements so we could find our power animals.  Once an animal was picked, we researched its characteristics in order to learn all there was to know about them.  We then took a trip to the zoo to watch our power animals in their natural environment better understanding their movement.  Unfortunately, there was no elephant at the zoo so I relied on YouTube videos to help me understand the movement.  Finally, we made flipbooks of our animal’s movements and then began on our final project.

Each track of this sculpture represents a different way in which I perceived elephants movement.  The first path is meant to represent two elephants holding trunks and swinging them, a representation of their undying compassion.  My mechanical movement is a wrecking ball.  I chose this instead of a swing set because I thought it was a really cool contrast to the compassion I was trying to portray and feel I most relate to in elephants.  Wrecking balls are a symbol of destruction and anger, the complete polar opposite of compassion.  My final track was my representation of 1, 2, 3 Swing and to me that represents undying love and compassion, which goes hand in hand with my original opinion of elephants.  Finally, I chose water as my natural element over earth because I thought it would more of a step outside of my comfort zone and was a different way to view what elephants most connect to.  I represent this in my project with a stream running through the board.


As I began this piece, I sketched an elephant to try and understand it’s general shape and from there I made my flipbook.  As soon as I finished that, I sketched the movement of all my three representations in a linear path so I could create the paths I wanted to depict in my final project.  Then I actually went about creating these paths with wire and placed them on carefully on my piece of cardboard.  Finally, I secured them and created my lake running through to represent the element I chose.

Power Animals JH [Nature -> Humans -> Machines Kinetic Sculpture]

October 2, 2012, by


September 25, 2012

Hawks Eye View (10x16x6)

Clay, Cardboard, & Metal



This piece is about my power animal, the hawk and the paths it takes, and what is sees.  After identifying my power animal (an animal I relate to), I tried to figure out how it moves, and what it sees while moving.   I started of by identifying how hawks move, and what they can see while in the sky.  I used the ICHING to find out what my elements were (air & earth) and tried to incorporate these in to my piece by showing aspects like flying and the terrain below.  The hawk and I share traits like being defensive, and being very communicative and social with others.


We researched power animals and the one that most identified with me was the hawk.  After identifying my power animal I went to the zoo to look at how the hawk moves.  After sketching the wings’ movement and how the hawk walks, I made a flip book of a hawk flying to identify it’s movement.  Each of the paths I made represents something about the hawk.  The first path is how the hawk’s wings flap in the wind and how it glides across the air.  The second being how an airplane takes off, flies across the air, and then lands slowly again.  The third is a flying suit that closely mimics how birds can fly and glide in the air.


The natural element that identifies with me is earth and air.  You can see both of these by noticing that the clay that covers cardboard looks like a birds eye view of a hawk flying over the clouds.  The white represents the clouds, the blue is the water, and the green is grass.


Power Animal Kinetic Sculpture

September 30, 2012, by

The purpose of this project was to explore movement and answer the Guiding Question for this unit: How are movements recreated from Nature to Humans to Machines? In order to accomplish this, we took a class trip to the zoo and watched videos of our animals move and then thought about people and machines that mime their unique and quirky movements. I learned about Power Animals,the I Ching and natural elements and really enjoyed creating my kinetic sculpture.


September 2012
Take Off
Wire, Clay and Cardboard


This piece shows the movement of a swan in takeoff of the animal’s own movement, as well as human and machine movements that mimic it. I was inspired by a person hang gliding and running off to start the adventure as my human track and an airplane in takeoff for the machine track. This project has many roots and involved many different side projects to fully develop itself. It began with an exploration of Power Animals and how they connected to the elements of our I Ching reading, an ancient Chinese manual of divination. I chose a swan because they are graceful and incorporate so many elements because they can fly, swim and walk on land. Another characteristic that drew me to them is that they are really feisty in an unexpected way. Once an animal was chosen after extensive research and personal reflection, a study of movement began, observing how the animal moves through space and time. With this information, simple flip books were crafted focusing on one specific movement of the Power Animal, the swan in take-off in my case.


Movement and the path of the animal, human and machine were twisted onto wires and then it came time to construct the wire tracks and the cardboard and clay landscape. This piece was built by bending wires and then using clay to attach them to a piece of cardboard, as well as using clay to decorate the board to match the elements of ourselves and the animals. The clay on the cardboard shows a night sky because one of the swan’s natural elements is air, but I chose night instead of day because swan’s have an aggressive attitude. The clay beads on the wire track the movement of the animal, person or machine.  This project was completed with clay, cardboard and wire. My piece is 9.5 inches tall, 11 inches long and 9 inches wide.


Nature -> Humans -> Machines Kinetic Sculpture – AW

September 30, 2012, by

In our art course, The Great Pretender, our first action project was to create a kinetic sculpture. We found Power Animals whose movements we then studied and based the sculpture on. By observing the motion of my animal, an otter, I discovered a lot about the way its body works and moves that I had never noticed or understood before. I also enjoyed creating river scenery out of clay on the base of the piece. The process I followed for the project is detailed in the artist statement below.

Alice Welna
September 2012
Slip & Slide
Clay, wire, cardboard
18.75 in / 10.25 in / 7.25 in

The piece contains three tracks that represent the motion of an otter sliding, the human imitation of sledding, and the mechanical imitation of a lawn mower. To create this piece, we first had to discover our own Power Animals. We did a visualization exercise to have an idea of what animal would help us when we were in danger: for me, it was an otter. We used the iching, a form of Chinese fortune telling, to find elements that connected to our Power Animals. Mine included water and fire, which to me represents otters because they are aquatic animals (water) but also land mammals (fire).
After researching the animals more, we began to observe various movements made by the animals and sketch them to get a sense of the shape and how it moved. When the time came to narrow it down to one action, I chose sliding, which represents otters’ fun energy. I created a flipbook of an otter sliding to study the movement. The next step was to make that movement linear, and find lines for the human and mechanical imitations. My tracks, other than the otter’s slide, are sledding and a lawn mower. These lines were drawn and then became wire tracks on the sculpture, held up by clay. Beads molded from Sculpy run along the wires like the animals or object they represent.
The otter track loops in the beginning as a way of showing how the animal’s body curls as it runs in preparation for the long, straight slide. Humans, just like otters, have recreational sliding when we go sledding. We push off the ground a few times for speed–shown in the track by jagged bumps–and then slip down the hill. Lawn mowers have the same straight glide over the ground, but no take-off is required, so the machine track is simply a straight line.

The clay holding up each track & the beads that run along them have specifically selected colors. The blue for the otter represents water, the natural element where the animal spends most its time. The white on the human track is for the snow we sled on. For the machine’s track there is green, since lawn mowers slide over green grass. On the cardboard base is a river with muddy banks along the side. It was created by sticking and smearing layers of colored clay all over the board. The image of flowing water represents the otter’s natural habitat and calls to mind its slippery movements.

BR – Character Profile for Art

April 26, 2012, by

Name: Monty O’Sullivan

Age: 82

Hometown: Dublin, Ireland

Current Location: Wonderer

Family: Has three daughters and five grandchildren. His wife Milly died a couple years ago.

Education: Retired college professor.

Occupation: Retired.

Hobbies: Taking walks, building bird feeders, eating, and having adventures.

Variables in your life: Becoming one of the oldest men to travel the world.

Are you the puppet or the puppet-master of your life? I am sometimes both depending on the situation.

Background Story:

Monty sits, waiting for something exciting to happen. Something as small as a book falling from the shelf, dust that gathered in its pages over the years explodes from all sides.  A book falling makes a thud on the ground, a different sound from the ones that Monty has been listening to for the last couple of hours. He was good at believing in magic and having even the smallest of happenings become something meaningful, a work of magic. Unlike other nights the magic was missing on this evening. Ever since Milly passed away and the kids had grown up and moved away, Monty was more alone than ever. He had no one to tell his stories to and he wanted so badly to talk. Being quiet for long amounts of time made Monty depressed and seemed to turn him into a somewhat grumpy old man. Which he was not. In fact Monty was one of the most compassionate men that lived in the town and everybody thought very fondly of him. Sometimes he would turn to the picture of his deceased wife on the wall and tell her a story. Hearing his voice surprised him since it had been so long since he heard it.

Weeks passed and Monty being the kind spirited and driven man that he was decided he needed to get out. He knew that making a journey like the one he was planning could end his life. But he knew its what Milly would have wanted him to do. He packed a sack full of mostly books, apples, and some clothes for the road. He grabbed his walking stick and made his way for the front door. As he was leaving behind his home, he waved goodbye, not knowing if he would ever see it again.