Phobias as a Source of Creation in an Art Class

Guest Blogger: Karl Bayek

Everyone is afraid of something.

DSCF0813 (600x800)As much as we may try to reason with our fears and tell ourselves The only thing to fear is fear itself when presented with objects and situations that relate to our fear, we instinctively become overwhelmed by a variety of emotional and physical symptoms.

Students in my Art II Sculpture course were presented with the challenge of representing the epitome of an individually selected phobia through a sculptural form that could serve the function of a chair.

These ‘Phobia Chairs’ are intended to evoke fear through a variety of symbolic elements related to the particular fear. Each chair is designed to be the worst nightmare for someone with that specific phobia to sit in.

Through brainstorming, sketching various possible solutions, writing about their personal fears, discussing their fears with classmates and making personal connections to the feelings and ideas of others, students thoroughly investigate the nature and universality of fear. Each ‘Phobia Chair’ is a mixed-media sculpture in the round, developed by considering what materials can best convey the intended objects and feelings.
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Phobia Chair assignments:

Phobia Chair Sketches

  • Read the background information about Phobias on the handout provided.
  • Read through the list of Phobias.
  • Select 2 different Phobias (from the list or from your own research)
  • Create 3 different sketches of chair forms that effectively represent both of your selected Phobias.

Personal Fears

What are you afraid of? What are your biggest fears?

Explain the two things you are most afraid of (minimum of one paragraph for each)
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  • How does this fear affect you?
  • Describe how you feel/react when exposed to (or even just thinking about) this feared ‘thing’?
  • Have you had nightmares or detailed imaginations related to this fear? Describe them.
  • Why do you think you have this fear?

Phobia Chair Analysis and Reflection

  • What phobia is your chair based on? (Scientific name and what the fear is.)
  • Explain how your chair epitomizes the phobia.
  • Explain how your chair represents an effective balance of form and function.
  • What are the most important Elements and Principles (2 of each) in the visual interest of your chair as a sculptural work of Art?

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