This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credits, l-r: Tamar Thibodeau, Elizabeth Randolph

April Fools’ Prank (Almost) Gets Carried Away...

There is a long tradition of April Fools’ Day celebrations on campus—students still remember the 2008 prankster who planted everyone’s toothbrushes on the lawn—but this year, one senior art major took a more subtle approach, attaching a mysterious floating “balloon man” to a lamppost in front of the library.

According to the culprit, Luke Stern ’10, the sculpture was part of an assignment for Tyler Rowland’s sculpture class, which required students to “apply a radically different method of operation for conceiving and making a sculpture.” For Stern, the assignment was a relief. “I have never had the freedom to take a chance or leave the success of the work up to the interpretation of the viewer. I have become stuck in controlling, to my best ability, every aspect of making and showing my art.” For “balloon man,” he attempted to let go. Stern credits his classmate Stefan Schwartz ’10 with helping to formulate the technique—they used plastic wrap, tape and helium-filled balloons to shape the body.Balloon man on ground

“It seemed appropriate to display the sculpture on April 1, as I had not received any approval to display it on campus,” admits Stern, whose “balloon man,” proved to be a delightful surprise to countless passersby. The piece floated in front the library for a day, carried to and fro by gentle breezes (and occasionally not-so-gentle breezes), and then drifted ever lower as its helium ran out. By day’s end, “balloon man” was perched on the grass with legs crossed, as though he had just climbed down and was simply taking a break.

May 2010

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