Carroll High School Fine Arts Night Art Display Ideas Plus Photos From 2014

This post is obviously a reprint from Monday, April 28, 2014. I'm running it again because this years Fine Arts Night is coming up! If you or your classmates need display ideas, hopefully this will get you started!

Carroll High School Fine Arts Night Display Ideas!

It's that time of year again! No, not prom season--it's awards and recognition season, and once again, it's Carroll High School's turn. Check out Carroll's Fine Arts Night Wednesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. at 3701 Carroll Road, Fort Wayne IN.

I work at a big box home improvement store. Sunday, I had two young ladies and their parents come in trying to figure out an inexpensive way to display artwork. Face it, even if mom and dad say it's okay to blow $200 on a one-time only display, why would you want to? If you ARE going to spend money, it makes sense that whatever materials you decide to use, you can use again.

So here are some ideas for displays. I realize time is short, but I decided to put some ideas together. If you like them, spread the word!

For an impressive display, get your hands on a refrigerator box. If you can't find one, try and get a couple of range/dryer/washer/dishwasher boxes and paint them the color(s) you want, then tape them together. You'll have at least four sides, and a fairly tall display. You can weigh the boxes down with books for extra stability. Try and find boxes with flaps intact. I would suggest going to the home improvement/appliance stores in person to get the boxes. If you call the store, chances are you will be transferred to a department staffed by one person. They will probably be busy, perhaps too busy to look and see if there are any boxes to be had. If you actually show UP in the store, you stand a better chance that someone will track down some boxes for you. Cardboard is cheap (in this case, probably free) and is fairly lightweight. Be sure to use cardboard to mount your artwork on instead of buying expensive mats at the art stores. I think they still sell Post It note glue sticks, or some sort of adhesive that isn't permanent. Use that, or make corners for your artwork for temporary mounting.

Painting your cardboard: You will have better results if you use a primer. You don't want any printing on the box to show through. So if you are going with a black or red background, chose a gray primer.

Try and think of unconventional ways to display your artwork. A patio umbrella makes a novel way to hang artwork, as long as you have a sturdy base for it. Use fishing line and duct tape to attach the artwork so it can hang from the umbrella's outside edge. No one will see the duct tape since it will be on the top of the umbrella. Make sure the umbrella is high enough so people can walk under it.

Bookcases can serve a dual purpose of displaying 3-D artwork, such as sculpture or jewelry, and you can use the three sides to display photos or paintings. Remember to mount your prints on cardboard, and don't frame them, so they aren't heavy. If you don't have a bookcase, look for inexpensive ones such as these. You can use them over again, and to save space when you aren't using them, they are easy to take apart.

If you don't have it, see if you can borrow it. If you have lots of jewelry to display, try using a dress form, and putting a cool dress or neat outfit on it. It depends on your jewelry. Funky, modern jewelry won't look right on a formal gown.  Also consider hitting up the thrift stores for velvet jackets to use as cushions for pins. If you have satin gloves, try stuffing them with fiberfill and stitching them shut. You can use those to display rings and bracelets. Scarves would work too. Try using goldfish bowls or aquariums to display jewelry.

Wire shelving, the kind used for linen closets, comes in various depths. With some zip ties, you can attach three or more of them together and form a vertical triangle, or a cube. The wire is usually spaced in half-inch intervals, so you can attach a variety of things. Most stores can cut the length of the shelving. We have it in four, six, eight and twelve foot lengths. You can get one shelf for around $7 or so. Larger sizes cost more.

Something else you might want to consider is lattice panels. You can use zip ties at the top as a hinge, then either use more zip ties at the bottom, or twine to secure the bottoms to make a sort of giant sandwich board. It will look like a giant upside down V. You can then display your artwork on both sides. You can then use the lattice for its original intention, or use it for a garden-themed headboard or wall display panel for photos or award ribbons. 

Pallets can also be used, if you don't want your artwork at eye level. You can zip tie pallets together to make an open cube about three and a half feet high. This might not be your cup of tea, but pallets can be had for cheap, if not free.

Go scavenging! People throw out all sorts of useful stuff. If you can find four doors all the same size, you can paint them. then hinge them together for a vertical rectangle (which will be pretty darn solid) for a variation on the refrigerator box theme. Screen doors are a lightweight alternative to traditional doors. I've seen brand-new screen doors for $21. But try to borrow or scavenge if you can.

If there aren't any boxes to be had, you can always go to Office Depot and get document storage boxes. I think they come in 10 packs, so you can save some money. You can paint these, duct tape them together, and make a giant wall to display your artwork.

Most home improvement stores have sawhorse brackets for about $7 per pair. A couple of two by four by 96 inch studs cut down can make a quick table. Just slap a piece of sturdy cardboard on top, and some fabric to hide the legs and you're good to go. you can also make a giant sawhorse by buying five of the two by fours, and a pair of brackets. The fifth two by four will go across the top. You will have a sparse looking frame, which can be painted whatever color you'd like. You can hang the pictures with fishing line, or clear line. Duct tape the line to the back of your artwork. Then, duct tape the line to the top of the two by four across the top, where no one can see it. The artwork will appear to float in the air. 

Use your imagination! A lot of great artists were extremely poor before they became famous. Use this opportunity for making a display another way to be creative! Bear in mind, I don't know if you have space limitations, or how much time you are allowed to spend assembling you display. Not all of these ideas may work. Think about your artwork and if there is a theme running through it. If you need a little bit of elevation, borrow a card table or coffee table. Check out the thrifts for sheets or lengths of material to cover tops of tables, table legs, etc. Stepladders may be an option as well. You could probably make a 10 foot by 10 foot display booth out of PVC pipe. Depending on the circumference of the pipe, I saw pipe for less than $2. You could attach it with the little corner pieces. I would estimate if you did just the frame, it might run you maybe $25. Also, if you have one of those little pop-up canopies, you could use that as a display area. If it's advertising beer or some other form of alcohol, you may have to cover up the logo so you don't get in trouble.

A little bit about paint: It never hurts to prime! If you are using cardboard, it probably will have writing on it, or it won't be the right color. If you are deciding on a very dark color like black or a deep red or brown, please use a primer. If you don't, the brown or white of the cardboard may show through, and you won't be happy. If you come to Lowe's, you can get a gallon of black paint for about $21. It's called Olympic Icon, and I recommend getting it in flat, so it doesn't reflect light. I suggest using the color Black Magic, which is my favorite shade of black. It's made by Olympic. It's a pure black; if you look at our other shades of black, you'll see hints of green, purple and even brown. If you do decide to prime, get the Valspar High Hiding Primer, which is around $18 a gallon. It's white to begin with, so tell someone at the paint desk you'd like it tinted to a gray.

If you think these ideas are helpful, please let me know! My email is Please spread the word, and if you try something that works, please let me know! I will find out the date of the Fine Arts night and post it here on the blog. I just wanted to get this post up ASAP. Please spread the word if you know a Carroll student (and parents!) freaking out over displays! 

Carroll Fine Arts Night Photos!

Here are some photos from Carroll's Fine Arts Night. There was some really interesting funny art. There were also spoken word pieces, singing and music as well. I really do think the night should be longer than just a two hour event. I was able to meet the young ladies who came to Lowe's looking for display ideas and paint. 

This was a nice set up, and some nice pieces. The display was three panels painted and hinged together, with a board across the top to keep everything stable, as well as identify the artist.

Taylor made a cast of her own body in packing tape, and made a dress form. Displayed on this is a dress she made, and yes, she can wear it.

Some nice graphic design work.

Noah got these pallets from church for basically nothing. He nailed some panels on the backs of the pallets to give them height. He then nailed some supports on the bottom so the panels wouldn't fall over. He said to buy the pallets, they would cost about $9 each. He then mounted his photos on some unusual nails that sort of looked like flattened spikes. They fit in really well with his photographs, which featured lots of bridges.

This display was made of what looked like OSB and PVC pipe. Ashley's work depicted a father and son doing the same things.

Brooke was one of the young ladies who came to Lowe's looking for paint. She chose this dark red color, and I strongly suggested she use some gray primer on her panels before putting the red on. Red does not cover well, so I think the gray primer helped. Brooke said she put on about two coats of the red. It looked really nice!

Tayler knew someone who had a prior Fine Arts night exhibit, and borrowed this set up, which consisted of old doors. Tayler can't remember where her friend got them, but said they weren't expensive. The doors looked antique, and made a beautiful background to her work.

Alexa is the second young lady who came with her parents looking for display ideas. The boards were painted black and then hinged together to make a big display triangle. Boards can range from insulation to OSB to particle board to plywood. I think her father said the set up cost around $103.

Alana's artwork struck me as having a sense of humor. You'll see a close-up photo of her stuff later.

Brianna spoke about being Asian, and how it puts a damper on the holidays. However, she portrayed it in a humorous way.

And Santa doesn't come for Christmas, either. Sorry the pictures are sideways.

Coming to Starbucks soon. The Megaccino. Only $200.

A whole table of wire-sculpted shoes was set up. Here are a couple of them.

Yes, a replica of that famous picture, with soldiers made out of packing tape.

Made out of Starburst wrappers.

It looks like Obama, but it isn't.

I like how this figurine was multitasking.

This student liked underwater photography.

I like the title on this one.

This caught my eye, because it looks like a miniature replica of the area surrounding Cindy's Diner downtown. Then I realized it wasn't. It's a photograph, and there must be something up with either the lens, or how it was manipulated (if it was).

This is plastic, painted and then glued into place.

I like abstract art.

A 3-D depiction of the Wizard of Oz.

These bowls looked like flowers to me.

I like art that makes me think and/or wonder. Is this a tooth, or a white diamond?

Bird leaves!
Or are they leaf birds?

A branch makes for an interesting display tool.

I like this apple stitched together. It was disturbing.

I love the colors in this. This was done by Brooke Stabler.

The picture above was painted in nail polish! Alexa Heyneman did this one.

This photographer had photo reproductions of famous photos as part of his display.

I think this was the artist, Josiah Joseph, posing as Elvis.

Some of Alana's work. I like her sense of humor!

Kate Yeager had some disturbing-looking work. Her display was literally a miniature art gallery, complete with walls and lights.

This was a really wonderful show. And it was absolutely free! Next year, consider coming out to this show to see and hear some very talented students!


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