CINCINNATI, OHIO, DECEMBER 4, 2012 – La Salle High School students turned teacher Mike Knueven’s 2004 white Nissan pickup truck into a Peter Max-inspired rolling piece of pop art.
The senior-level Art 4 class and school’s Art Club collaborated on the project, but it was Knueven who selected the artist to study and imitate. He chose the American illustrator and graphic designer, whose 1960s work featured psychedelic shapes and colors.
“This truck is groovy, man!” Knueven said.
“In the previous year 2011,” he explained, “we studied a particular artist, Claude Monet, and painted a car in Monet-style. The students found this new canvas to be a very exciting way to express art.” That car, a Ford, belongs to La Salle drama teacher Connie Saho.
Students got to work during last winter and spring on Knueven’s pickup. They studied the work of Peter Max and created brightly colored scenes that include a yellow submarine and Sgt. Pepper – “Of course I’m a Beatles fan and musician,” he explained – and added a “Cincinnati flavor” with the city’s skyline and steamboat.
Falhaber Nissan sanded and primed both Saho’s and Knueven’s vehicles, then added a seal to protect the art.
Knueven described the educational aspect of the project, which takes about six weeks to complete.
“Through this art project not only did the students learn about the history of ’60s pop art and artist Peter Max’s style, but how to make decisions on placement, painting style, composition, studio art, painting on a three dimensional plane, and group work,” he said.
“Designs were enlarged to fit the form of the truck. We decided how we would control color and form so that each artwork would transition to the next area seamlessly,” he added. “This was a fun challenge but not an easy task.” For one thing, the vehicle cannot be exposed to rain until it has been sealed.
Students will work on one more vehicle next spring: a Vincent “Van” Gogh. It belongs to the wife of another La Salle teacher, so she got to choose the artist.