An Introduction to Architecture & Installation Art

By Burns, Carol; Hevel, David A. | School Arts, May-June 1996 | Go to article overview

An Introduction to Architecture & Installation Art


Burns, Carol, Hevel, David A., School Arts


A primary purpose of any introduction to art is to challenge and expand the students, definition of art. This group project accomplished that purpose as the students worked toward constructing an installation piece on the courthouse lawn.

The unit was presented in three lesson parts. First, the students were introduced to the concept of installation art, followed by a filmstrip and presentation on Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The final part of the lesson was on the criteria and specifics of the assignment.

What is installation Art?

In the introductory lesson, the students learned that installation art grew out of a reaction to the disposability of industrial commodities and marked the end of an era in which art was viewed as a nonperishable item. The students also learned that installation art brings into a single composition the space the piece will be contained within,light, color, form and illusion. This type of art can bring to mind an endless variety of materials and subject matter, including architectural elements. An installation piece is not intended to be permanent; it is meant to be dismantled and is not likely to be set up again.

Following the introduction, the students examined the differences between barrel and ribbed vaults, an the differences between Romanesque and Gothic architecture by looking a several examples as well as a film strip

Procedures and Criteria

Another lesson was designed to address the procedures and criteria for the assignment. The problem was presented as follows.

Using the information you have acquired in your study of Gothic an Romanesque architecture, construct an installation piece on the courthouse lawn incorporating a minimum of at least two arches of the same style. Apply the following criteria: 1. Be creative and original in your arrangement. Variation in size, direction, etc., adds interest. 2. Dimensions must be a minimum outside height of 8' (2 m) and a minimum inside width of 3'(9 m). 3. All materials used must be natural and must be from the environment. 4. Materials should be easy to dispose of when taken down. 5. Construction should be weatherproof to the extent possible. 6. Construction should be transportable because they will be built at the school and transported to the display location. 7. Construction should be stabilized or anchored. 8. The structure should incorporate a walkway, floor or base. 9. Color can be used but must be natural. 10. Internal negative space should be used in an interesting way. 11. Include an element of surprise in the structure. It can be manmade but should be easy to dispose of. 12. Incorporate all of the principles and elements of design. 13. Consider unusual lighting. 14. Keep a daily log of activities. 15. Submit detailed instructions for assembly, complete with diagrams. 16. Submit a personal critique of the installation in terms of the principles and elements of design.

We reminded the students to avoid destruction of property, to ask permission to use borrowed materials and supplies, and to protect sidewalks, etc., from stains and debris. We also asked them to consider how their group would solve the storage problem, weather problems, transportation problems, and how the group would dismantle the installation. …

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