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The purpose of pompoms

The purpose of pompoms

February 8, 2016 // by MOCA Staff

What are soft, round, and come in all the colors of the rainbow? Pompoms, of course! They are some of my favorite favorite art materials, and I use them over and over again. What is it about these colorful, plush balls of fun that keeps me enthralled?

One of the most important uses for pompoms in art projects, specifically for younger ages, is enhancing fine motor skills. Pompoms come in various sizes, from as small as a pea to as large as a golf ball. I love to mix them together in a large basket and task students with finding the smaller poms among the larger ones. Providing students with tools for grabbing the poms is also a great exercise in motor skills.

Pompoms on deer hunting decoy in Art Aviators b
Pompoms are used on this deer hunting decoy for the Art Aviators exhibition in 2015. Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.

We have featured pompoms in past Art Aviators exhibitions. I was first inspired to use them when I stumbled upon the work of Troy Emery, an Australian artist who has an “object-based sculptural practice.” He refers to his sculptures as “fake taxidermy.” His pompom-covered figures served as the inspiration for a collaborative art project in the 2015 Art Aviators exhibition. Fifty-three students over the course of five ninety-minute sessions at MOCA Jacksonville worked collaboratively to glue the pompoms one by one on a plastic deer hunting decoy. During the extended time spent to complete this artwork, students worked on fine motors skills, as well as sensory integration. This artwork is on permanent display at their school.

Pompoms in Art Aviators c
Pompoms are used in this Art Aviators exhibition project in 2014. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Miron.

In 2014, another art project featuring pompoms was on display. This project involved students using plaster wrap to create an abstract three-dimensional form. Once dry and hard, students took turns gluing pompoms on the sculpture. Similar lesson plans have been used over and over again in Art Aviators because of their benefits, since the curriculum targets therapeutic outcomes.

Another contemporary artist who uses pompoms is Suzan Shutan, who invites viewers to touch and interact with her art. I've been eyeing her work and thinking of ways to incorporate her ideas of movement into students' art. I'm thinking of pompoms and wire …

Daniel Rozin incorporates the fun fuzzy objects into his work. Pom Pom Mirror (now on view at the Telfair Museums' Jepson Center in Savannah, Georgia) incorporates 928 faux fur pompoms, just as his Penguins Mirror  in Smoke and Mirrors  uses 450 stuffed penguins to create a mechanical reflection of the viewer in real-time. Rozin always inspires me because his works use child-friendly materials.

Now, if I can get my hands on 10 million pompoms, 700 gallons of glue, and a Ferris wheel …




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