Documentary inspires art, results in campus-wide balloon project

Dr. Steve Halla and Haelim Allen, assistant professors of art, help take down the balloons that floated over the campus. | Photo by Jacob Moore

By Katlyn Moncada, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Art students and faculty gathered to create a campus-wide arch of balloons Monday for a project called “His Banner Over Me is Love.”

Melinda Posey, assistant professor of art, said the hope was to have the project on display all day. However, the string holding the balloons together broke once they reached Jennings Hall.

“You have to think of the surface area that all of these balloons combined together creates,” said Paige Ward, art department shop technician. “Each balloon has a surface area, and multiply that times 500, or however many balloons we had.”

Ward said because of the great surface area, the wind would blow the balloons up and out further, so organizers could not form the arch they had planned.

Students got their inspiration from watching a documentary.

In March, 18 students gathered at the home of Lee Benson, professor of art and department chairman, to watch “Lord, Save Us from Your Followers.”

Dan Merchant’s documentary aims to search for answers to how the Gospel continues to divide America, even though nine out of 10 people profess to be Christian.

After watching the movie, Posey said students responded with heavy self-analyzing and many questions, such as “What do other people think of Christians?” “What do I think of myself as a Christian?” “What do I need to be in the world?” and “In what ways do I need to let go of the world?”

Art Department students work to create an arch of balloons on Monday, which stretched from the Penick Academic Complex to Miller Tower. | Photo by Jacob Moore

To demonstrate the idea of letting go, the Art Department decided on a community-wide art piece using balloons.

Along with a cart of about 1,600 balloons, Ward prepared a cart with string as well as a cart for helium tanks. Students and faculty gathered at about 8 a.m. Monday. Ward said the art majors each were assigned different tasks.

After balloons were inflated and tied to a piece of twine, each was attached to a main string that was meant to stretch across campus.

With the supplies on carts, Ward said movement was easy because they were able to follow the path of balloons as the length grew.

Even though the string broke, the balloons still garnered a lot of attention on campus.

“It was great to see people come out of their offices and literally walk across campus to see what was going on,” Posey said.

Before the string broke, Ward said the group gathered around Jennings Hall to determine whether the students should continue. She said the faculty voted to keep adding balloons until they could do so no longer. Ward said before they continued, she encouraged the group to pray.

“At that moment, the string broke,” Ward said. “Just because of the tension and the force that the balloons were creating, the string snapped in the middle of prayer.”

Ward said she did not know if God intended the project go that way, but the project created a beautiful line of balloons straight into the air.

Cassie Robbers, sophomore art major, assists in making the arch. | Photo by Jacob Moore

The department has created other community art projects as well. Posey recalled a project she worked on as a student dedicated to those who died Sept. 11.

“It’s been a while since we have done (a project) campus-wide,” Posey said. “It was important to us to unite the Art Department and draw attention to things we need to let go.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.