It is 95 degrees with sweltering humidity, which can mean only one thing in Ann Arbor. It’s Art Fair week! It is time to brave the crowds and the heat, to be rewarded with first-class people watching, over-priced delicious lemonade, and art of every imaginable (and some unimaginable) variety.
Last year I had so much fun with my Art Fair SCAMPER walk that I decided to do it again. I set out to explore the fairs looking for examples of the various SCAMPER strategies. You could have similar fun having a SCAMPER hunt at a local museum, hardware or discount store, or even your own house. Or perhaps you’ll be inspired to try your own SCAMPER art. I’ve provided a few questions to get you started. We’d love to see the results, either way.
Here’s what I found this year. Do click on the artists’ links. I don’t generally photograph art without the artist’s explicit permission, so if you want to see the good stuff, you’ll need to check their websites.
S is for Substitute. What would happen if you made a vase, substituting paper for the traditional ceramic or pottery? That is what artist Raphaela McCormack does in her handmade paper vessels. What could you substitute to make a vase unique to you?
C is for Combine. Kelly Crosser Alge’s Modern Ancient Glass combines modern interpretation with ancient glass-fusing techniques. It also combines drawing with fusion to create works that boggle the mind of anyone who has every attempted to cut glass or control dust. The “drawing” portion of these works is created by manipulating fine glass dust—then getting the piece into the kiln to fire before a stray breeze or dog tail destroys it. Needless to say, outdoor demonstrations were challenging! Think about how you could combine two media to create a work of art.
A is for Adapt. How would you like a table that plays music? Adam Crowell’s Boxed Music creates beautifully-pitched tongue drums, including one that serves as table, art, and instrument. Consider how you could adapt an instrument to another purpose—or adapt another object to be an instrument.
M is for Modify, Magnify, or Minify. Photographer Xavier Nuez is probably best known for his urban landscapes, but this year I was fascinated by his use of magnification. I first was captured by his Crystals series, extreme magnifications of reglazed china, but while at his website I was even more intrigued by the Glam Bugs. Who would imagine creating characters—so say nothing of glam characters—from the short lived insects that surround us. His work may inspire to get out your camera to explore the tiny mysteries that surround us?
P is for Put to Other Uses. The fairs are full of art that uses materials designed for one thing to create something else. One of the featured artists this year was Sean Brown, who (among many other things) uses all manner of brushes to create perches for fantasy birds. Pick an object around your house—perhaps an old spoon, a shoelace, or an empty spice jar. How could you use it to create art?
E is for Eliminate. Art that eliminates something can be tricky to find, but my favorite this year was from artist Kate Tremel. She makes beautiful things with clay, including vases that eliminate the traditional hole in the top, instead featuring many smaller holes into which flowers can be inserted (this could be an example of minifying, too). Imagine a free-form ceramic globe hanging on the wall, with flowers growing from the surface. Lovely. Challenge yourself to look around the house to find an object for which eliminating a feature could create something more beautiful.
R is for Reverse. I was first attracted to Ed Kidera’s work as an example of reversal for the “turn time backwards” aspect of his steampunk ipod players. In exploring his website, I found an even better example of reversal—19th century “time machines” ready to transport us to the future. Makes me want to go SCAMPERing though the basement to see what I could use to transport me through time! Perhaps you’d like to try, too.