Opportunities for creativity and self-expression are an integral part of a Fayerweather education. Over the course of their years at Fayerweather, students have the chance to explore a wide range of visual and performing arts.
In the 7th and 8th grades, students study art through elective courses that allow them to delve more deeply into a narrower discipline.
Shop teacher, Hannah Gittleman, and Art teacher, Iku Oseki, have been collaborating on one such elective, Challenges in Form and Structure, for over a decade. Some assignments are a typical design school challenge, such as using certain planar or linear materials to build a bridge which spans a given distance and supports a minimum weight.
Or, the “Cardboard Shoe Challenge.” The project requires students to truly understand the structural properties of corrugated cardboard and then build a shoe which supports their weight at least 2 inches off the ground as they walk the length of the hallway. The finished products have to be functional as well as visually pleasing, combining the engineering skills developed in shop and the aesthetic skills of art class. Their creations explored many different ways to use the everyday material. Some were even elegant!
Over the years, other challenges have developed more organically, often as a result of interests of the students themselves, like the “Transformer Challenge.” Working alone or in teams, students designed and built a “machine” which transformed one object into another. For instance a toy caterpillar was inserted, and “magically” a related object, such as a toy butterfly, emerged. Far from magical, these systems required sophisticated design thinking on many levels: conceptual, mechanical, and visual. Though they seem simple on the surface, a look at the interior revealed complex machines.