A local art collective, Sculpture Support System, on Sunday created a “Traffic Island Oasis,” a temporary public art installation featuring the work of Indiana University of Pennsylvania students in 3-D design classes in the Department of Art and Design.
Led by IUP professors and Sculpture Support System co-founders Sean Derry and Sharon Massey, the installation provided an optimistic outlook on social distancing by turning a small traffic island on Oakland Avenue into a temporary tropical paradise. Derry and Massey tasked their respective students with creating island-themed sculptures from post-consumer cardboard. These were then displayed on a stage of burlap sand and accompanied by a cardboard palm tree.
The Traffic Island Oasis provided students with real-world experience in exhibiting and documenting artwork, losing the white walls of an art gallery in favor of a less conventional venue. Students were encouraged to contemplate the meaning of isolation and how their sculpture changed their experience on the island.
Freshman Leslie Ibarra said she “initially found working with cardboard to be challenging, but it was exciting to see what everyone else had made for the island, and while the event was happening, I totally forgot about the coronavirus pandemic.”
Students enrolled in entry-level art courses were mentored by upper-level students and gained a greater understanding of the rewards and challenges of temporary public art.
Derry and Massey created the collective to establish additional professional learning opportunities for motivated IUP students. The collective’s unique approach to collaborative art-making allows students to work with their professors on the creation of large-scale participatory public art projects.
Sculpture Support System’s artwork is based in social practice, an increasingly popular field of art that engages an audience as participants in the art-making process. Traffic Island Oasis is the group’s second piece made in response to the pandemic. The group’s previous project, The Quarantine Companion, was commissioned by the Office of Public Art in Pittsburgh earlier this year.