Tyler sends Trojan horse to open citywide dialogue

Tyler students greeted four area art schools with renditions of the Trojan horse as a declaration of an art war with a request for retaliation.

Tyler students snuck into the Art Institute to leave a declaration of war in an attempt to increase collaboration between the schools (Courtesy Tyler School of Art).

After sneaking into the night and risking arrest, sculpture students from Tyler unleashed an attack on four area art schools and declared war.

The delivery method for their declaration: four Trojan horses strategically placed in public areas at the University of the Arts, the Art Institute of Philadelphia, Moore College of Art and Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

The attack stemmed from Karyn Olivier’s advanced sculpture class. Olivier told the class they were to plan a 12-hour group art project, leaving the topic and execution completely up to the students.
What came from Olivier’s assignment was much more than she had expected.

“I just wanted to give the students an assignment that would force them to collaborate and form a sense of trust and respect for one another,” she said.

Alyssa Brubaker, a student in Olivier’s class, said the class met several times to figure out what they wanted to do for the project and then, one student set the wheels in motion.

“Someone said ‘art war’ and everyone got stuck on it,” the senior sculpture major said.

From there, the students developed the idea of delivering large-scale Trojan horses to area schools for an art war.

Initially, the group thought the project could be completed in 12 hours, but once they started, they realized they were in it for the long haul.

“It was close to 30 hours, pretty much 30 consecutive hours,” Brubaker said. “Friday night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the horses were coming along, and the declaration was pretty much done, but we were in no shape to deliver the horses. So we took a nap for a few hours, and then worked all Saturday night to finish.”

The horses are made out of a basic wooden frame and are on wheels for easier maneuvering. The wooden frames are covered in cardboard boxes used to bring the art school to Main Campus.

“Art schools just in general have a sense of competitiveness,” Olivier said. “It’s always been this distant challenge, and now, it’s like, ‘we’re here.’”

Constructing the horses took up the bulk of their time, but sneaking into the schools was the most exciting part.

The class rented a U-Haul and sent scouts to the schools to survey the scene prior to the attack. After the horses were completed, and before they were delivered, they were hidden in students’ studio spaces to keep the project a surprise.

“Everyone was so pumped,” Brubaker said. “We didn’t quite know what to expect.”

“It was amazing we got in,” Olivier said. “I brought chain link and locks in case we couldn’t get in and we’d have to chain it as close as we could.”

But students were able to get in, and it was easier than expected.

Brubaker said security guards didn’t question them when they arrived with the giant structure. Most guards assumed they were art students from the schools they were invading. At PAFA, the guards were expecting them.

“We had an in at PAFA, one of the deans, and they told us where to go in and cleared out a spot for us,” Brubaker said.

At UArts, a student saw the Tyler class reassembling one of the horses and loved the idea of an art war.
The class is expecting a response and has already heard back from one school. Moore responded via YouTube critiquing the horse and promising an equally creative response. Olivier said she heard UArts students plan on disassembling the horse that was delivered to their school and using the parts to craft their responses.

The attack isn’t meant to be menacing, and the students are excited to see the responses the other schools have planned.

“It’s all positive,” Brubaker said. “We’re not trying to bash anyone and say ‘Tyler is the best.’ We’re trying to open up a dialogue with the other schools.”

LeAnne Matlach can be reached at leannematlach@temple.edu.

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