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Honors College Student Creates Avant-Garde Art

Katherine Bruner Showcases Her Environmentally-Conscious Art Installation
Honors College Student Creates Avant-Garde Art

Katherine Bruner hangs her paper clocks in a tree by the French House.

Honors College student Katherine Bruner recently showcased her artistic skill through an art installation she created for her Honors 2021 class, "Avant-Garde: Its Myths and Functions."

Her installation, which was inspired by environmentally conscious artwork and artists, featured three functional clocks — made out of paper. 

“The project that I’m working is about the fragile state of nature and examining the relationship between humans and their environment,” said Bruner, whose installation focused on how human interference causes problems in nature.  “The clocks that I made are really just a metaphor.”

Bruner, a chemical engineering freshman, said that the clock represents the complexities of human society in general, and its materials and design are also significant.  One clock in the installation had extra weight in the form of paper humans hanging on it, representing the burden humanity imposes on nature; the extra weight eventually caused the clock to crumble symbolically.

“Katherine successfully navigated between research, writing, a multimedia oral presentation, months of fine craftsmanship in making these exquisite pieces, and then what amounted to a performance,” said William G. Osborne III, Honors College Director of Curriculum Development who teaches the class on the Avant-Garde. “Not only did she study cutting-edge artists, she was able to become one.”

The major project for the course is a semester-long research project on a cutting-edge contemporary artist or movement.  While most students choose to fulfill the requirement by writing an academic paper, Bruner opted to participate in the creative option by creating her own artwork. 

Bruner, whose family has been involved in making clocks for years, spent a month creating her paper clocks, which were each made up of approximately 120 pieces (including miniscule cogs and gears). 

“It was time consuming but worth it,” she said.  “[My classmates] were surprised that the clock — which is something you look at every day — can tell a story.”