What happens when something small and cute becomes large? Is it still as adorable and inviting as it once was? What happens when the pretty pastels of “cute” are rendered in austere black and white?

The students brought in various objects to serve as subjects for an investigation of the concept of cute.They began by studying the objects and arranging them on a scale from “super cute” to “not cute at all.” This activity, which I dubbed the Cute-O-Meter, generated many conversations among the students and resulted in a master list of “The Characteristics of Cute.” Features such as “child-like,” “miniature,” or “having accessories” qualified a thing for a higher cute rating.

In conjunction with the Cute-O-Meter, the students also observed work by modern artists such as Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol and noted how they shifted size to generate different impressions of familiar objects and images. 

Each student chose an object to render in a large-scale painting. They studied how light hit their objects. The students used only white paint on black paper for this initial study, giving their paintings strong value contrast. Startling highlighted creatures emerged from a dark, almost cavernous background.

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