Students learn challenges of creating shelters

Sheets of plastic, umbrellas, shop vacs, tarps and garbage bags all contributed to building temporary homes at the University of Northern Iowa April 19 and 20. 

Packable ShelterUNI art education instructor Andrew McCormick wanted his Three-Dimensional Concepts class to explore the utilitarian and personal side of "shelter" while still examining its cultural context... why we need it, how we've come to think of it, what we think of those that don't have shelter (ie. homeless and displaced people). 

McCormick assigned the class the task of creating packable shelters that collapse down to fit inside a customized carrying case that the student  also had to create. When unpacked and assembled, the shelter had to be big enough that the student's entire body could be completely contained inside of it, and when packed up inside of the case it had to be easily carried to and from campus.  Packable Shelter Assignment

In looking at other artists and architects related to the project, McCormick says they kept coming back to thinking about these things as being a rapid response, having to do what you can with what you have close at hand, etc.  "Given the current global context of war and displacement due to natural disasters, I wanted to have our young aspiring artists and designers build cheap, easy and fast."

The students found the assignment to be challenging, as McCormick expected. As junior art major Randy Mixon commented, "It always looks better on paper than it does in real life."