Professor: 3D class identifies artists’ calling

3-Dimension Design
3-Dimensional Design
Emily Traylor, sophomore art major, constructs a form using cardboard Feb. 8. Art majors are required to enroll in 3-Dimensional Design class, which is offered every spring semester. | Photo by Amanda Rohde

Every spring, art projects appear in conspicuous locations around campus as part of three-dimensional design art classes held on campus, and the projects often raise questions, pique curiosity and cause a little bit of confusion.

Three-dimensional design, or 3D, is part of the core curriculum for all art majors and is generally taken the spring semester of one’s freshman year. The projects deal with six elements of art: form, space, line, texture, color, light and time.

This semester, 25 students are enrolled in the two 3D classes.

Lee Benson, Art Department chairman, teaches the class and said it “lays out the day-to-day effort that is required to be an artist.”

Benson said that after taking the class, students should have a better understanding of which medium is for them.

“It serves the art student well by identifying God’s calling on their life into the arts and giving them a logical and sequential understanding of what it means to live that life,” he said.

Ellen Cline, senior art major, had this experience when she took 3D in the spring of 2012.

“I realized that three dimensions is where I wanted to live, artistically speaking, for the rest of my life,” Cline said. “I found three dimensions to be incredibly freeing. Anything could be used, anywhere could be used; it was exhilarating and sometimes paralyzing, too.”

For Benson, one of the main goals of the class is to imbue the students with gratefulness for the gifts God has given in those six elements of art.

Recognizing art as a gift from God “produces a sense of gratefulness and thankfulness that then produces much better work because you have a much better person,” Benson said.

For Cline, gratitude was a major part of what she learned when she took the class.

“This class changed my outlook on art,” Cline said. “Mr. Benson emphasized that we first strive to be a certain kind of person, not strive to make cool things, more objects. The lectures, which focus on different elements of design revolve around gratitude and responsibility.”

Cline said she began to view the tools used to make art as a gift.

“Lines on lines on lines, colors on colors on colors, space unlimited, free from God’s hand, at no charge at all, to people like us,” Cline said. “This attitude influenced the way I think about and make art hugely.”

3-Dimensional Design
Erin Sowers, sophomore art major, cuts and designs cardboard to construct a three-dimensional form for class Feb. 8. | Photo by Amanda Rohde

Zach Lancaster, a sophomore art major who is enrolled in 3D, said that as the world is shifting, two-dimensional art is becoming less noticeable.

“Because we’re three dimensional, 3D, more than 2D, makes you explore,” Lancaster said.

As the projects appear around campus, students will have a chance to explore.

Lancaster compared the 3D projects to the written assignments that comprise the assessment technique of other majors.

“If you’re a business or Christian studies major, if you’ve ever written a paper…that’s what we’re doing except we’re showing it to the whole school, even if it’s done badly,” Lancaster said. “That’s a brave thing, even if you’ve been forced to do it.”

Lancaster said he hopes people will be able to approach the projects with an open mind.

“There’s value in paying attention before you critique,” Lancaster said. “There’s value to be open to wonder before letting your left brain take over.”

Benson said the classes are different than similar classes at other schools because students are more open to the bearing their faith has on their whole lives.

“Union is very fortunate in having students that are very open to the truth and how it relates to their field of interest,” Benson said.

He added that the class will help art students create more earnest, sincere work.

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream