In the days immediately following November’s presidential election, Emily Simon ’17 felt that the student body had already begun to move on from its disappointment.

“I had a premonition that was grounded in past experience at Bowdoin. Today sucks, and maybe tomorrow will suck, but after that we’re all just going to go back to business as usual,” Simon said. 

It is this political complacency that inspired her, alongside Haleigh Collins ’17, Kenny Shapiro ’17 and Laura Griffee ’17, to create a giant sculpture of President Donald Trump’s head. 

Students may have already taken note of the unnamed and unfinished piece, which has been in the Lamarche Gallery since Saturday and will be on display until the first week of March. The piece is crafted mostly from recycled cardboard boxes. It will ultimately include videos projected onto the sculpture depicting  reactions to the election of Bowdoin students and others. 

The artists hope that the piece will catch the attention of the members of the Bowdoin community and encourage them to engage with political issues that they may not otherwise consider on a day-to-day basis.

“[Our goal is] disruption but in a productive, nuanced and thoughtful way,” Collins said.

The students came up with the original concept for the installation immediately after election day in A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli’s “Abstractions” class. 

“We felt that people had already moved on,” Shapiro said. “[The piece] was definitely born out of our frustration and anger with a very targeted demographic.”

Though the four students consulted with several faculty members as well as former Sculptor in Residence John Bisbee, they created the piece outside of the classroom. This independence of their work and separation from the institution of Bowdoin is part of the project’s appeal to Simon.

“The most exciting thing for me has been working on something that challenges the need to protect our comfort in the status quo at Bowdoin,” she said. 

The ways in which the artists chose to address the politically provocative sentiments they hope the piece will represent have changed over the months after the election. During this time, they have considered different political perspectives and the variety of ways in which students might be impacted by the Trump presidency. The final product seeks to explore the political climate in a manner that is serious rather than flippant or absurd.

“We recognize that there are a ton of people at Bowdoin and elsewhere who are dealing with this issue on a very serious level,” Griffee said. “As artists, we have been struggling to try to be very careful and respectful of that possibility.”

The team’s original concept for the piece’s video component focused solely on the perspectives of the Bowdoin community. When Griffee invited students to give video testimonials, she was disappointed to receive only seven responses. She decided to use internet sources for the perspectives of strangers, however, ultimately providing a valuable opportunity for both the piece and for Griffee personally. It allowed her to engage with a diversity of identities and opinions.

“I got really excited and sucked into the different video reactions and testimonials,” she said. “I was really interested in listening to other viewpoints that were not my own and humanizing this group of people.”

The students constructed the base of the piece in the garage of Shapiro’s off-campus residence and transported the assemblage of boxes three blocks to David Saul Smith Union on Saturday. The artists said this transportation process was one of the the most rewarding moments in the process of creating the piece. 

“Moving it from spot to spot was just so crazy and fun and disruptive and weird,” Shapiro said. 

Griffee estimates that around 20 passing students stopped to to inquire about the piece or help her, Shapiro, Collins and Simon lift it over the glass wall separating the gallery from the rest of   Smith Union.

“A lot of people were excited that it was naughty on some level, which was exciting, because I didn’t think Bowdoin students had that in them,” Simon said. 

In addition to political conversation and heightened awareness, the artists hope their exhibition will generate student engagement with art as a mechanism of political and social discourse. 

“Art is something that anyone can literally approach and consider,” Simon said. “It speaks in its own way, and I hope that we’re making a case for public art here.”

Collins, Griffee, Shapiro and Simon aim to complete the piece before the start of next week and encourage members of the Bowdoin community to contact them with questions, concerns or interest in participating in the project.