Meet the Guardians
The art of deception. That’s what freshmen visualization majors in Professor Dick Davison’s 3-D design course learn as they spend five weeks creating otherworldly creatures called Guardians that appear to be expertly sculpted out of stone, bronze, wood, marble, or in this case, rusting iron.
But remarkably, this humanoid, mythical character—dubbed the Old King by creator Sarah Bannon ’19—was actually created using aluminum foil, paint, papier-mâché, insulation foam, newspaper, bedsheets and chicken wire. Anything that can be acquired within a $100 budget is fair game.
Students begin by sketching designs and creating a backstory for their Guardian in order to learn character development. Most commonly, Guardians are heroes and heroines born out of fantasy cultures and civilizations. Bannon drew inspiration from the "Lord of the Rings" series and the story of Rip Van Winkle for her creation: a king from a lost civilization whose likeness was abandoned and forgotten in the woods.
During the construction phase, students mimic real-world materials and portray the exquisite complexity, dynamism and grace that make up human musculature and anatomy—a skill they’ll need as they advance to classes in which creating believable animated characters is fundamental.
“The project from start to finish is a wonderful mix of art and science,” Davison said. “It’s the perfect introduction to visualization, and I love working with freshmen because they don’t know yet what they can’t do.”
Many of the Guardians were displayed at the College of Architecture’s Viz-A-Gogo event earlier this year, an annual exhibition of the crème de la crème of undergraduate and graduate work.