Pierce Pioneer

Pierce College Connecting with Students Through Art

WOWHAUS Art Studio / Courtesy Photos
A large replica ctreated to showcase how the Ascent art piece will look once completed.

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s new art installation is meant to connect and inspire students attending the campus.

How do you define art?

Scott Constable of WOWHAUS Art Studio says it is a way of interpreting and understanding the world. “Art is the cousin to science and a mode of inquiry,” says Constable. He is the creator of the ASCENT sculpture located in the stairwell of the Cascade Building, which is a central hub for students. “I believe it’s a good metaphor for education by climbing the stairs,” he says. “And I was inspired by the students.” 

Suspending from the four-story stairwell, the piece appears like a large fan with several smaller shaped fans on top. Every shape and angle capture a student’s growth and success in school. “When you are in school, you are exposed to many different viewpoints, and with those you create your own narrative,” says Constable. The sculpture is meant to be viewed from different angles while each view gives you a different perspective. “It’s always dynamic- just like the students,” he added. 

The process of creating this art piece began around 6 years ago when the committee wanted to incorporate an artistic element to the school. David Roholt, an art professor at Pierce, said it was a collaborative project with the artist and the Washington Art Commission. “Being able to work with various colleagues on campus was rewarding, and the artists were easy to work with,” says Roholt.

WOWHAUS Art Studio / Courtesy Photos
Scott Constablemaking the measurements for the Ascent art piece.

The ASCENT sculpture is made of wood and took four months to craft, both by hand and computer. There were some challenges to making this piece work in the stairwell so that it wasn’t easy to touch. Constable stated he made a model and took measurements. Afterwards he had a structural engineer make it earthquake proof.

WOWHAUS is based out of Oakland, California and consists of Scott Constable, his wife Ene, and his daughter Aili. “When my daughter was about one and a half, I was building a tiny studio in the backyard that was seven feet by nine feet. She would always say I was in the wow house,” says Constable. “It’s also a take on BOWHAUS in Germany who were the inventors of modernism.”

Nature is Constable’s main source of inspiration. He became interested in art at a young age and began by just drawing trees. “Drawing taught me to see in color, form, compositions, line and shade,” says Constable. He loves to experiment with 3D, abstract and moire patterns. Growing food and raising chickens with his family in the California Redwood Forest would constantly spark his imagination and creativity.

The sculpture has many meanings to everyone. Roholt says it’s pivotal to the environment, being that Pierce is an academic institution. The intent is to add color and something unexpected for students. “It will add an artistic element to make the campus even more beautiful,” he says.

Constable says the most rewarding part of the process is when the sculpture is displayed. “When it’s installed, it belongs there, and it belongs to the students through generations.”

There are many students pursuing a career in the arts, and Constable knows firsthand what it is like… “Making a living as a professional artist is notoriously difficult and is often frowned upon as a career path,” he states. “My advice to any young person interested in pursuing a career as an artist is to be an excellent communicator. The sweet spot is in understanding your strengths and limitations, finding the best medium to express your ideas, and understanding how the marketplace relates to your artistic endeavors.”

Student art display encourages altering books

Over the past several weeks, an intriguing art display was set up across the hallway from the Fort Steilacoom art gallery on the 3rd floor of the Olympic Building. Students and faculty would pause to interpret the meaning of the pieces of art in the “Altered Book” display.

Students in Karen Doten’s art class were given a challenging assignment: to change a book into a creative piece of art. They first needed to find interesting visual or conceptual books from local thrift stores, then modify the books into a unique sculpture. Materials such as wire, plaster, paint, thread, glue, collage, etc. could be used. Many students chose to incorporate a nature theme into their pieces.

Student Leslie Pellegrini spent 20 hours creating her artwork. She said her idea was to represent a city and nature blending together. She collected different images from books that show a view of an old city. Her piece uses a tree made from copper wire to connect the beauty of the city with the richness of nature to represent how humans have a connection toward each other in society. One of the most interesting parts are the random quotes Pelligrini hid throughout the piece in small type at different angles.

“Wire that connects the pieces of wood are used to integrate all aspects of the project and show that nature can grow out of anything, as well as represent the inclusivity of all living things,” said Pellegrini.

Student Jennifer Paretta created a tree with a hole carved in its trunk. She said she created crystals from glass by baking the glass, then directly put it in cold water so it would crack internally. After crushing the glass with a hammer, the crystals were glued into the hole. For the book, Paretta said she folded pages of the book into flowers. She also used a special technique to fold the pages at the top of the tree to spell out imagine.

“I just really want creativity to flourish through books,” said Paretta.

Student Shanley Willers said she was inspired by her daughter, who loves reading books.

Her piece is one she hopes her daughter will use as a night light in her room. The fairy and the key lock unlocking the book were her daughter’s ideas, she said. These features help the book to “explode with imagination,” said Willers.

“Using pages from the book and folded them into butterflies, flowers, and other features, so that bring the pages are brought to life out of the book,” she said.

Different ideas are presented in student Sabre OcKimey’s artwork. She chose to incorporate nature into her project by creating a tree growing through a book. She cut a piece of wood in half to make the tree and used wire as vines. She added hot glue to make the tree appear as if it is dripping with sap.

“I wanted to portray the calming part of nature,” said Ockimey.

Student Areauna Brown had a religious idea to commemorate the death of Jesus with a book.

“I want to incorporate the day God died on the cross,” she said.

In order to do so, she superglued several pages of a book and carved them into a real cross. Pages of the book are also used to create a background and a figure of Jesus. She even added blood on the face of Jesus and real nails in his hands.

Student Jordan Dombrowsky’s idea was to create a book stand.

He said he used a base to hold the center book by using a technique with craft glue, Mod Podge. His artwork includes support pieces on each side to hold additional books.

“I used pinecones and pine needles as additional decorations because they feel like Washington,” said Dombrowsky.

Art Daze

Student Life Lobby

Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Student Jenna Timm paints a lion on canvas during Art Daze.
Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
A group of students decoupage notebooks. Students include Marissa Escobar (left), Kara Heddin (back left), Alexandra Chodzin (right), and Mirna Ali (right).
students at a table
Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
A group of students decoupage notebooks during Art Daze.
paints and paintbrushes
Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Paintbrushes and paints that can be used for painting.
students create art
Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Alexandra Chodzin (left) and Mirna Ali (right) have fun being creative while decoupage notebooks.
people and tables
Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Students relax and create in the Student Life lobby during Art Daze.
people sitting at a table
Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
A group of students decoupage notebooks during Art Daze, including Marissa Escobar (left) and Sabrina Stevenson, the manager of the Tutoring Center (right). (Aiyana Parham the Outreach Coordinator of Student Life has her back turned in the picture).
kinetic sand
Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
One of the activities students could play with in the Student Life lobby.

Tacoma Real Art gives stage to new bands for all ages

A concert review of local bands that joined together to celebrate freedom of expression through music


A concert review of local bands that joined together to celebrate freedom of expression through music

Staff Writer: Megan Sokol

In the belly of downtown Tacoma, at an all ages club called Real Art Tacoma, where up and coming musicians live, four small bands come together to make art. On Sept. 18, Fairlady, Oblio, The Melting Point, and Dyodd all played a matinee show at Real Art.

Real Art has been the staple of the Tacoma music scene for over eight years indulging crowds with many different bands from all over the country, including Oblio, who came all the way from Los Angeles. Students and locals alike come to see bands they’ve never heard of and learn something new. Ashton Dart, a former Running Start student of Pierce College took a break from her current studies in social work to come see Dyodd.

Dyodd opened the show by ripping the stage with assertive vocals and an even more powerful message. One song was named “20 Thousand Deaths,” based on the Native American small pox genocide. They also sang about how they must “take down the wall” in protest of the Trump campaign. Amidst other songs, bands like Dyodd are able to express themselves however they want.

Next up was The Melting Point, a young Linkin Park-esque band whose guitarist had some electric guitar riffs and killer rhythms. Oblio’s soothing and serene melodic tunes were next. Oblio’s band members changed instruments during their set, which is rarely seen on stage. At Real Art, all bands have the freedom to paint whatever unique picture they desire. Bands like Fairlady, who make all of their merchandizing and album art, are what make Real Art authentic and spontaneous.

If any students have the chance, splurge on a $5 concert and discover something unheard of. Their location is at 5412 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma. For future shows go to www.realarttacoma.com.





The Joy of Painting



Yasi details one her alla prima paintings

Cameron Cyprain Staff Writer

Nestled in the heart of the Olympic building is the art department, easily distinguished by the Fine Arts Gallery adjacent to the music hall. Art Professor and gallery coordinator David Roholt holds one of his painting classes down the hall, in room O270.

A visit to this somewhat hidden workspace reveals the color-rich aftermath of various ongoing projects. The artistic environment is quite liberal: students have the freedom to interpret their own images from a number still life sets. This means that what they paint does not have to mimic the perceived image in terms of color or strict form, but is instead a rendition of the image they see.

Yasi details one her alla prima paintings
Yasi details one her alla prima paintings

As part of a recent class assignment, students had the task of completing their paintings within the parameters set by a few different methods and styles. There was also a time limit of no more than 20 minutes. First, they used a method known as Imprimatura, an Italian word meaning “first paint layer” or “toned ground.

In this process, an initial layer of stain is applied to the canvas as a form of underpainting. Using Imprimatura allows the artist to establish a relational difference between dark and light in their painting.

Each piece by the students was a work in progress and was therefore untitled. However, styles, not provocative titles, were the primary focus

“I like surrealism, especially epic surrealism,” said Yasi, who is a veteran. One of Yasi’s toned ground paintings depicted a bright-green-eyed figure with bronze-skin and golden hair. Its sharp, detailed expression evoked a subtle sense of loss and sadness, with eyes that wonder. Two other students, Jae Spovacek and Joe Marra, unveiled their works, each making an imaginative use of color and shape.

 The second style used was Alla prima, Italian for “at first attempt.” Though self-explanatory, this method is unique in that it relies on a continuous sequence of layering, and the work must be finished before the first layers of paint dry. “They’re timed on it as well,” said Roholt, “with the last method, they were messing with shadows. This time they must go without using lines.”

An additional Imprimatura by Jae Spovacek in darker colors
An additional Imprimatura by Jae Spovacek in darker colors

Periodically cycled and posted, completed student projects often reside on walls across the hall from the classrooms. Passersby can view these in addition to featured artistic works displayed in the separately organized Fine Arts Gallery, perhaps to serve as a motivator for potential master painters, drafters, printmakers, and sculptors found right here on campus.

art as an outlet

Art is an important aspect of everyday life. Dreams and imagination are sculpted through; drawing, painting, making music, and many more creative and expressive ways to create art. Many people find art to be a tool to vent and to produce yourself on or in beautiful and interesting makes of art.

These types of meditative features help people in general. When walking down the street you see a metal or stone sculpture. When you’re in a waiting room you see all the pictures and paintings on the walls. These are just a few of the many uses for art. People who make art their life are usually known to be eccentric people. People who think outside the normality of society.

Art is a way to bring someone’s creative side to life. Someone can take their “inner soul” and “place” this on a canvas or into a musical symphony for others to enjoy. Art is a way to get lost in the “world” you create. Art connects us to each other. With all the emotions that we see, hear, and touch, people will always get lost in the “dream” of art.

Pierce students performs ethnic dance

Indonesian dance group

Indonesian culture comes to Seattle through art, dance, public forums, music, and food

Abdul Wahab
Contributing Writer

Having arts and performance classes in our college inspires students’ creativity and art. Drawing, drama, public speaking, and music classes represent the student’s interests, along with dance.

Seattle Center held an Indonesian culture day where performers presented their culture through dance, costumes, exhibitions and discussions.

Pierce student Jez Dionne Lumbantoruan preformed and earned the appreciation from the audience.

As a media student from Indonesia, on scholarship, she represented Pierce College on top of being evaluated for her art form.

The celebrating is held as part of a 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s fair, where huge number of Indonesian people celebrated the event.

The cultural event was enjoyed and observed by multiple cultures

A live performance by the band, ASAP Dragon Fly, demonstrated their versatile talent.

There was also a Angklung performance, which is musical instrument made from two bamboo tubes connected to a bamboo frame.

Basically Indonesia is a diverse nation consists of 17,000 islands that bring different cultures and ethnic groups.

The Indonesian culture day showed attendees of the verse differences in culture, while reminding participants of their Indonesian culture, in addition showcasing their heritage through theatrical shows and traditional music.

After a full day of dances by singles, couples, and groups, the performances kept audience’s eyes upon entertained and delighted.

A memorable moment was the presentations of the wedding dresses, where escorted women wearing wedding dresses attracting the attention of the audience.

The estimated cost of the exquisite dresses starting at $500 dollars, all depending on the demand of the couple, customized requirements, and the materials used in the dress construction.

The event featured Indonesian food, a huge line observed during the food serving the patroness.

Sculpting a better future through teaching art

Professor Danella Sydow fulfills her passion for creating art, as well as through teaching it to her equally passionate students

Donna Kopmar
Staff Writer

     Danella Sydow is an art professor at Pierce College. She has taught here since the fall of 2008 and teaches design, 3-D and sculpture courses. Her art has been exhibited in New York, New Jersey, California, Idaho, and England.

     Sydow graduated from the University of Washington School of Art in Seattle. She received her master of fine arts in studio art from Washington State University.

     Before working at Pierce, she worked at a bronze works foundry. When little, she enjoyed doing art however she was unsure if her future career plans included art.

     She had her CNA for nine years then returned to school and took an art class, which changed her life completely. Through that course, she realized that she could make a career out of art.

     What made you decide to be an art and humanities professor?

     My students. I love my students. I love instilling in them a sense of creativity. And I can see that they create their own artistic voice and that just gives me pleasure.

     What are your goals for the future?

     To continue teaching, to be a better instructor, and of course do my own art. That’s my passion too.

     I will eventually have my own art studio on my property and hopefully a metal shop to make metal sculptures.

     What do you do during your free time?

     My husband and I love going on road trips. Any time we have free time we just get in the car and drive around the Pacific Northwest to the coast and just enjoy Washington, it’s a beautiful area.

     What would you do if you retired?

     I would focus and devote myself to art. Probably have a gallery represent me.

     What do students do that bug you the most?

     When they don’t turn in their work on time because then they fall behind on other projects and it becomes a domino effect. Once we start it goes pretty fast, it’s like a blur when the quarter ends.

     What makes your course different from the other professors that teach it?

     My passion. I get a lot of pleasure teaching and I enjoy watching my students excel.

     How do you feel about teaching at a community college instead of a university?

     I taught at WSU for a year. That’s where I knew I loved people, students and teaching.

     What I love about community college is the collective of students I get, from very young to older students.

      What do you like most about working at Pierce?

     The faculty. We have a friendly environment here and we join well together. I have a good bond with all the instructors.

     What is your favorite famous piece of art?

     I really like the sculptor David Smith’s work because he uses recycled stuff to make interesting sculpture forms.

     What do you think about when you work on your art?

     I’m so involved in my art. It’s so labor intensive that I’m just focused on what I’m doing, I’m not really thinking about anything else. And when I do art, time seems to fly. One hour will seem like 10 minutes.

Visit Sydow’s website at http://danellasydow.wordpress.com

Fort Steillacoom Features Faculty Artists

Through Feb. 17, the winter exhibition at the Pierce College Fort Steilacoom Art Gallery showcases the work of Pierce College art faculty.

Featured artists include Daniel Meuse, David J. Roholt, and Danella Sydow.

To celebrate the opening of the show, an artists’ reception will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11. Refreshments will be served. All are welcome to attend.

The Fine Arts Gallery is located at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, Olympic Building, O265, 9401 Farwest Drive SW, Lakewood. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. Admission is always free.

For more information, call Gallery Director Jennifer Olson-Rudenko at (253) 964-6535 or visit the art gallery website.

To see additional photos of the work featured, visit the Pierce College Facebook page.

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