Monsters at the Museum

On Thursday, April 20, 2017, students from Mr. Lucas Boehm’s ceramics, painting, and drawing classes, and Mr. Scott Sievert’s video recording arts classes took a morning trip over to the Minneapolis Institute of Art for some time of wandering among the art, trying their own hand at sketching, and taking in an especially creepy exhibit.

The video arts class visited the “At Home with Monsters” exhibit which is based on the works and collections of Guillermo del Toro, famed director and producer of many fantasy, sci-fi, and horror films. They witnessed the creative process from conception to screen as they learned of the stories that inspired del Toro, saw excerpts of del Toro’s sketchbooks, and viewed clips and the creations from many of del Toro’s films. It was a wonderful glimpse into the creative mind of this masterful storyteller, and students had a lot to say about it in class today.

Junior Emily Johnson said, ”Guillermo del Toro had a very weird mind, which we learned from watching the interview, but I was not prepared for what I was about to see at the exhibit. The things that the human brain can create are very amazing. My favorite piece of art was the man standing and staring in the exhibit. The man was so realistic it felt as though he would jump out and scare you.”

Senior Jared Joyal reflected, “I found this exhibit incredibly interesting… seeing how this man got his start in the industry, where he got his inspiration, and how he does his work. I was very curious to learn how Guillermo’s monsters are inspired by personal experiences and emotions. One of my favorite pieces was the larger-than-life-sized Frankenstein’s monster’s head, the main focus in the entry of Guillermo’s Bleak House. However, the most memorable thing I saw was a collection of clips being shown throughout the exhibit. With shows entitled “Child Innocence and Vulnerability” or “Death and Resurrections in Guillermo Films”, the most intriguing collection proved to be “Beauty and Death in Guillermo Films”, showing juxtaposed contrasts of, for example, beautiful snowfall and purity followed by a gory stab in the gut to one of the characters. The exhibit wonderfully captured del Toro’s storytelling style through misunderstood freaks, scary beasts, and vulnerability.”

A number of VRA students said the “At Home with Monsters” exhibit gave them inspiration and ideas for creating their own designs or characters. They also enjoyed using their remaining time to browse the other works of art around the museum.

The ceramics, painting, and drawing students chose intriguing art pieces to sketch in their journal and had a great time discovering art from different periods, countries, and styles. A few assignments for the difference classes were to:

  1. Identify a work of art that represents who you are and explain why.
  2. Write down 2 artist’s names who are “new to you” whose work you liked and why their work caught your attention.
  3. Sketch at least 3 ceramic pieces. As you take in the collections, note the great variety of cultures, the similarities, and differences in form and function, as well as methods of construction, and surface decoration.
  4. Find “Frank” and look “closely”. How was he created?

Senior Ben Chen said, “The museum is impressive. It has a ton of good collections from all over the world. I am from China, and I saw a lot of paintings and things that were made two or three thousand years ago. It was crazy to see that they are still in very good condition. It also impressed me that people from a long time ago had such good talents on creating stuff. My favorite art piece is from the modern art.”

While returning to the bus for the ride back to school, students shared about their favorite pieces or if they found “Frank,” a huge portrait of a curly haired man with glasses that appears to be a photograph from far away, but upon closer inspection, is actually an extremely detailed black and white painting on canvas.

You never know what you’ll discover at MIA! 

Wade Guerin, Class of 2007, University of Wisconsin River Falls
" The success I had at St. Croix carried over into college, and for that, I am very grateful. "
- Wade '07