ROY — The newest “students” at Sand Ridge Junior High School linger in hallways long after their human counterparts have raced to assigned classrooms.
One motionless figure, sporting a see-through backpack and a glassy gaze, seemed to be bursting through a hallway window. Another filmy fellow object practiced clarity while reclining against a wall.
The figures are part of a packing tape and plastic wrap project created by art teacher Shellie Scroggins and her students.
“I saw it in an art magazine a few years ago,” Scroggins said of the posed, transparent figures. “Mark Jenkins, a street artist in D.C., started making hollow sculptures and placing them to interact with their environment. We are trying the same thing.”
Scroggins’ 39 students divided into groups of three. One played model while the other two wrapped their friend’s arms, legs and torso, one part at a time. Each body section was swathed in plastic wrap, then wound up in clear packing tape to form a semi-firm cast.
Transparent “body parts” were cut off and set aside, for assembly with tape when all were done. Some pieces were stuffed with plastic wrap, for strength. For student safety, plastic foam heads were used in making tape casts of skulls.
One group made a human-inspired sea monster, which appeared to be partially submerged in the school’s lobby floor. Another group used a tape cast of a doll’s head, and attached eight human arm casts for a spidery effect.
One tape sculpture came with a transparent sombrero and guitar, while another sprawled with legs at unnatural angles right beside two jagged pieces of a see-through skateboard.
The window diver, assembled in two parts and taped to two sides of the window, was the first tape sculpture to go up, two weeks ago.
“They’re holding up better than I thought,” Scroggins said. “We’ve had to add tape and stuffing to some, to make them firmer, but the other students have been pretty respectful and left them alone. It’s the power of art. It’s been a learning experience for the whole school.”
Izaiah Catrell, 15, of Roy, said his favorite part of the project was watching non-art students’ reactions.
“I’ve seen people lean against the wall with a foot up, like our sculpture,” he said. “Some sat by it, like it was another student. A few took pictures with it.”
Shelby Briggs, 14, from West Haven, was a partner on the wall-leaning figure.
“I never thought of packing tape as a material for making art,” she said. “And watching people react has been fun. Some seemed to be scared until they got a closer look. Tape is not my favorite thing to work with, since it doesn’t bend and shape well, and it sticks to itself. But I think this has made me even more interested in art than I was.”
Jonathan Martinez, 15, of Roy, was the third team member.
“It was fun working on something three-dimensional,” he said. “I never knew you could use tape as a medium. I made a tape guitar at home. I like doing this. I recommend this class to all Sand Ridge ninth-graders. It should be a full-year class. I hate for it to end.”
Tyler Williams, 15, Roy, was one-third of the creative force behind the window diver.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Tyler said. “It goes way beyond anything you could do in elementary school art, and it’s made me more interested in taking art in high school.”
Teammate Matthew Palmer, 14, Roy, said he enjoyed the tape sculptures, but he also liked making a dragon piñata a few weeks earlier. The class moves on to a ceramics project next.
Kayden Parker, 14, Roy, said the transparent tape sculptures opened his mind.
“I never would have guessed you could do that with tape.”
Scroggins said the project only cost about $3 per student, which came from the class fee they paid in advance.
“I’ve been pretty impressed with their level of creativity,” she said. “This was a project that grabbed a lot of students. They worked in a collaborative effort, and they solved problems together. They completely owned this project. Early on, when I rolled out the supply cart, it was like rolling a side of beef into a tank of sharks.
“It’s been a great project, and they will never look at packing tape or other household items quite the same way again.”