Ephemeral Figures


Suhani Gupta('24), Senior Opinion Editor

In February, during a leisurely stroll through the hallways, it was impossible not to notice the enormous constructions of lifelike sculptures embodying different spaces across the school. Plastic figures could be seen fishing in the pit, mimicking Spider-man, dumpster-diving, or holding up the mezzanine by themselves. Some were out in the open, others tucked away in nooks and crannies of our school. Scattere through different wings and lockers, these plastic sculptures almost floated in their presence around the school. But what exactly were the purposes of these figures?

The Sculptures and Ceramics elective worked on The Ephemeral Figures project for the first time this year–the results of the project.

“This was the first time we had done such a hands-on project at South,” said Ms. Samirah Akhlaq, one of the Sculptures and Ceramic teachers in the art department. “It was very rewarding to see the amount of creativity and fun our students have with the project.”

The Ephemeral Figures Project was designed to bring attention to certain spaces within the school, as well as the feelings and emotions that surround that space. “The purpose of the project was to activate a space or draw attention to the architecture and physicality of that space,” said Mr. Nathan Leventhal, the other Sculptures and Ceramics teacher who collaborated on the project. “Students were trying to create a figure that represented how they felt within a certain space.”

Creating the sculptures was a process that spanned weeks. “The process started off by putting multiple layers of Saran Wrap and tape on separate parts of our body to create the figure in the pose that we needed,” said Mia Long (‘25). “After that, we could cut and remove the layers, then re-taping them to create the full figure.”

The Emphemeral Figures Scattered across the school are a variety of different sculptures, all whose meanings represent the emotions of student life, or extend to applicable problems that are relevant globally.

Priyal Gupta (‘23) said, “Mine and Srinidhi’s sculpture, which you can see in the pit area, was climbing up the mezzanine, and it was supposed to represent climbing up the roots of history.”

Other students used the project to spread awareness and highlight social issues.

Zaynab Ahmed (‘23) said, “Kavya Karra and I chose to draw attention to the use of a trash can that was tucked into a little nook in the hallway. We wanted to illuminate and raise awareness about food wastage and hunger, since it’s a significant issue and students at South often take the food they have for granted and waste food they get from the cafeteria.”

Srinidhi Lakshminarayan (‘23) said, “The project, as a whole, is supposed to reflect how often we aren’t too cognizant of our surroundings. It’s about how we can direct our attention to the mundane and transform that into a really interesting piece of artwork.”