Pop Art Goes Global
Students in Advanced Studio Art are creating works inspired by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and other artists from the Pop Art movement.
When it’s famously reimagined by Andy Warhol as a work of art, a simple Campbell’s soup can becomes so much more. This term, students in Chris Kimball’s Advanced Studio Art class have been studying the work of Warhol as well as pop artists Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein. The pop art movement of the 1950s was a distinctly Anglo-American venture, where artists took common everyday objects and gave society a new way to experience them as works of art. The ninth graders in Fay’s Advanced Studio Art class, however, hail from a variety of global cultures, so Chris Kimball challenged them to choose a popular item from their home culture and recreate it in pop art style with pastels. One student from Shanghai contrasted two bottles of Chinese tea on a vivid orange background. A student from Tokyo drew a box of Pocky sticks, a popular Japanese snack food, on a bubblegum pink background. Another student from the U.S. created an Oreo cookie so lifelike that you want to reach out and grab it off the paper. “It became a very individual journey for each student,” says Chris, as each artist worked to recreate their product in pastel by blending and layering the colors. “Pop art is a very American endeavor,” notes Chris, “so to see them internationalize it was really neat.”
The students' study of pop art also provoked some interesting art room conversations about the purpose of art. With a class of talented technical artists, a project that required a simpler set of skills presented a different kind of challenge. “The project provoked some interesting discussions because the point of this kind of work is not to create the most realistic art but to create something that has impact,” says Chris. “Exploring the impact that a movement might have socially or culturally has been great, and the students have been really receptive to it.”
As the year continues, students will continue to examine art as a vehicle for social change. Building on the work in John Beloff’s ninth-grade Topics in Modern America class, the Advanced Studio Art class will be looking at propaganda art and exploring the impact of images that were created specifically to change people’s thinking and influence their behavior. “We’ll be looking at these movements to discuss why we make art, where that conversation is happening now in our society, and most importantly, how it is happening for each student.”