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Students create found art creatures

May 22, 2012
By KURT HAUGLIE , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - Murphy Mallow and Chad Raasio were trying to find the best pieces of driftwood to finish their creature creation that Raasio called a dinosaur during a presentation about temporary art Friday at Hancock Middle School.

After picking through several large piles of driftwood, the seventh-grade students worked to create their creatures after attending a workshop by artist Mark Larson.

Larson, a Duluth native who lives in Stephenson, said his workshop on creating art from found items is based on his book "Unkle Ake's (Oak-ee) Field Guide to Infrequently Found Animals on the Shore of Lake Superior."

Article Photos

Hancock Middle School seventh-graders Murphy Mallow, left, and Chad Raasio put the finishing touches on their dinosaur made from driftwood during a workshop at the school Friday. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Kurt Hauglie)

"It's kind of an offshoot of what I liked to do as a kid," he said.

As a child, Larson said he would gather items he found on the beach and make creations from them. Later in life, that skill was honed after he met English temporary environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy.

"You make your art only out of natural found materials close to where you found it and leave it there," he said.

Driftwood is a perfect medium for the art, Larson said, because most people can see possibilities for creations in the material.

"Everybody sees faces," he said. "I just took it from there."

During the portion of his workshop Friday when the students put together their creations, Larson urged them to be careful with the driftwood.

"Pieces can be part of two different creatures," he said. "Try not to break any of it."

Larson also told the students he put a great deal of work into gathering the driftwood.

"Although it may look like a bunch of junk, I've spent over a thousand hours looking for it," he said.

Also, Larson had to make the students understand when they were finished with their creations, they wouldn't be able to take them home with them; they had to go back into the plastic bins he used to bring them to the school.



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