Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Touch of Art Part Deux: Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies

Say What?
A Motorcycle Fred Flintstone Could Dig!
This week Champlain College Lennoxville saw its second motorcycle art exhibit. Admittedly, whilst the first event, A Touch of Art: Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies had been rather successful, I was uncertain at the time if I would be having future students undertake such an activity again, let alone teach the course a second time around. However, as fate would have it, a year and a half later and here we are for the second exhibit of its kind. The new event featured various artistic pieces that my students had to create as part of a special project for my course titled Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies. The exhibit was held between Monday, November 20, 2017 to Friday, November 24, 2017. Though this was a considerably smaller group than the first time that this exhibit took place back in April 2016, this year's event turned out to be every bit as touching. Students worked hard on creating unique pieces for an otherwise under appreciated sub-culture of academia. The following are several examples with written descriptions by students of their art work.

The Chobbeer  
By Joëlle Couture

Upon returning from World war II, soldiers had acquired mechanical skills and passion for motorcycle since they had been exposed to the small, fast bike coming out of Europe at the time. The fact that there was a surplus of utility-based motorcycles made for the war, meant that there was a surplus of frames, engines and parts. Since, like I said earlier, soldiers liked a small, lightweight, and fast motorcycle better, they decided to create the perfect “chopped” bike. Fuel tanks shrunk, and exhaust system were replaced for straight pipes while front fenders and rear fenders were removed. Bars were higher, brakes heavier, no fronts fender or brakes, narrow seats, here was born the chopper. Not only the story is pretty cool, but so are choppers. Like we all know, this chopper movement has become extremely popular all around the world. The historical context is surely one of the reasons of why I have chosen to create a chopper instead of any other kind of motorcycle, but I also simply like this style of bike. Of course, bikes come in different shapes, sizes and styles, but you probably have noticed that the look of chopper motorcycle is very different from traditional motorcycles. They are much more stylized and built to go faster with specific chopper part and accessories. What I personally like about this style of motorcycle is, of course, the badass look it gives to the rider, but also how we can actually see all the details of the mechanic of the motorcycle. I also like how they are all unique in their kind. For example, some can have a very long fork while other can have a smaller one, the chrome can be very shiny or darker, and of course the painted parts of the motor are always original and attractive. Here is why I came with, of course a chopper, but not a traditional one. First of all, instead of being full-sized, I made mine miniature, and instead of painting it, the colored part, which is the gas tank, is made with something I personally like which is beer. Also, I used my imagination to create a motorcycle with every little piece I could find in a garage so that there would be no waste of material. To conclude with, I think every biker wants a bike that reflects their personality, and that they will personally find attractive so here is why I made mine with a little touch of something I liked. Beer. 

By Jessika Veilleux

My project is a piece of art made by hand with a pencil crayon, with lots of inspiration while visually looking at my own photograph of my step mother’s bike. This art piece represents Sabrina’s Harley Davidson Forty-Eight sportster, which is a copy of the actual 1948 Harley Davidson, in which was used during world war 2. What made this bike so great for the war was the addition of overhead valve engines, aluminum heads and hydraulic valve lifters. Also, the one piece, chrome plated rocker covers shaped like cake pans was the reason for this bike’s nickname “panhead” (Harley Davidson Museum, 2017). This bike inspired me because there’s an amazing history behind it and this bike has helped a lot of people survive and what not. Also, because this was my biker’s bike and I got to learn more about it and about Harley Davidson during my interview, which is very interesting and neat, and made me decide to draw the main reason to all my points just mentioned.

Till Death Do Us Part
By Laurie Simard

For my project, I will need materials such as a motorcycle helmet, some articles of bikers that died in a motorcycle accident, a plant (or many) and some tools to destroy the helmet. For the helmet, one of my friend has one and he will give it to me. I will put some abstracts of article, like I mention before, that are linked with bike accidents. After putting the articles on it with glue, I will take the tool and break the helmet. If I can, I will try to crack the helmet to put the plant in between the crack to represent life. Possible flowers to put inside the helmet: Dill, which is a symbol of protection. (Protection for all the bikers and future bikers out there) or aloe, which is a symbol of resurrection. (Resurrection of all the victim through our memories.) The flower pot will also be covered with articles of motorcycle accidents. 

Route 66
By Camilo Andres Rangel Varon

Right here beside this paper you can see a representation of how my dream looks like, this represents the view that a lot of motorcyclist have when they are in front of their faces, through the windshield on their helmets. This is what I think, it’s the meaning of driving a motorcycle, the freedom. The color express how hard conditions most of the motorcyclist by do not being protected by anything but their clothes. The position on the bike alone in one side of the road represents what a biker does in a long route, stop, get out of the bike and just see how far they’ve got and how much they have in front of the to arrive to their goals. I use the route 66 as background because is one of the most known routes on the united states also, it’s part of my dream to cross that whole route from beginning to end in a ford mustang. This particular piece presents a Harley Davidson motorcycle, the flag of the American dream, and the most known bike around the world, me being a person who comes from another country, this is what pop’s up in my head each time someone talks to me about a motorcycle, that’s why I chose to use her. I leave you with a good quote that I could find and that inspired me while I was working on this piece of art: 

Refurbished MotoCycle
By Adam McAuley

This piece of art in front of you is a motor cycle that I primarily Constructed from old computer parts. It is not specifically styled after any bike in particular but the main stylisation is inspired by café racers. I chose to use old Computer parts to make the bike due to my obsession with building computers. I have personally built three computers, one for myself for gaming, one for my younger brother for video editing and one for my parents. Most of the parts used in this work of art are either broken, old or spare parts from my three PC builds. I feel the idea of using computer parts to build a motorcycle shows how, like computers, motorcycles can be modular and can be built, customized and fixed by the owner for their specific needs or desires. Café Racers are a type of bike that opted for speed and handling over looks or comfort. These bikes were heavily modified and customized by their riders to meet their desires and to make the bikes their own. They are called café racers because they would race from café to café on their bikes. I feel the idea of café racers is very similar to the idea of building a computer as the builder will pick and choose parts based on what they want to use the computer for and what performance they can generate. 

'Can It!'
By Emily Young

I painted this can myself and on the back there is written six words. Culture, subculture, social, solitary, respectful, rude, these words are how Nick Keeler (my interviewee) sees the motorcycle world around him. In my English class this semester I was introduced to the idea of a six-word story, a story that can be told in six words and has meaning. My teacher asked us all to write our own six word stories and this truly inspired me, when doing my interview for this class I asked Nick to give me a six word story on his motorcycle life and these are the six words he gave me, Culture, subculture, social, solitary, respectful, rude.  Here is the reason behind Nick’s six words. “There is a culture encompassing in motorcycles, there’s a subculture by the type of motorcycle that you ride, because my choice was Harley I am in the subculture with other Harley drivers, the social and solitary comes to mind is that you have a choice of riding all by yourself, or riding in a group and in both cases they apply to what we do, sometimes we ride by ourselves but many times we ride in groups up to 100 bikers as part of the social groups. Now, respectful and rude aspect of the biking group, respectful motorcycles give and receive a lot of respect on the road, so often you get a nod or hand wave at an intersection to let you move through the intersection, yet on the other side you have those who give us a bad name and just frighten us, who are rude and just have no respect for people on the road.” Nick is an inspiring man, who has helped me learn and grow through out my life. His father was like a grandfather to me and he was always there for my family and I when we needed him. Nick rides a Harley, and one day while I was scrolling through social media I saw a picture of a milk can painted with the Harley logo and I said to myself that I would really enjoy doing something connected with Harley because nick rides a Harley. I wanted to incorporate the six words that he told me about motorcycling into my project so I decided to paint them on the back. Nick is such an inspiration to me and I can’t explain how grateful I am that he is a part of my life. I wanted to say a huge thank you to Nick for doing this interview with me and for inspiring me to do this art project! 

Hop on and Take a Ride 
By Dahlia Houle   

My Art Project is a Visual Representation of a motorcycle being ridden on a road. The motorcycle was drawn in order to make the person that is looking at the drawing feel as if he/she was the one riding the bike. You cannot see the whole bike, only the front of it and two hands holding the handle bars as if they were yours. I did not decide to draw a specific brand since it was not the goal of my project. I wanted people to see the benefits of riding a bike in general, not one specific brand. The motorcycle was drawn with lead pencil only and was shaded with a special tool. The décor was drawn in color in order to make others understand that when I am riding, looking at the nature or whatever is around you and feeling a sense of total freedom is what I love the most about riding a motorcycle. You do not have the protection of a car around you, you are free, the fresh air flows through your hair, and the blue skies, beautiful trees and animals wandering around are very clearer and you feel much closer to them while on a motorcycle. I also decided not to draw a three-wheeled motorcycle because it has less of a sense of freedom for certain people. Three-wheeled motorcycles are bigger and have more protection than a two-wheeled motorcycle. During my interview, it was said that you couldn’t lean into the curves and feel the greatest sense of freedom. Riding a motorcycle is an immense stress reliever because all you think about while riding is the freedom you have and the view around you. I chose to draw rather than to build or create my project in a different way because drawing, to me, is a big stress reliever and I do not think of anything else at that moment. I believe that drawing has some of the same benefits and effects that riding a motorcycle can have. This is how I linked both my reason to draw rather than to do anything else, and the choice of object that I drew. I would like to give credit to Richard Hammond and the book he wrote about Motorcycles “A short History of the Motorcycle” since I was inspired by one of the pictures in this specific book in order to draw my art project. I was inspired by one of his picture because to me, it had a perfect representation of what it feels like to ride a motorcycle. 

A Bike Made of Bikes 
By Jérémie Godfrey  

My desirer behind this art piece was to showcase the vast number of different motorcycle models and to honor my teacher (Mario R. J. Corbin) who is the one that got me interested in motorcycles. I used a Moto Guzzi V7 racer as my large picture because that is the bike that Mario uses and it is a very nice bike. I then went online and found lists of motorcycle models of specific brands. My mosaic is made up of 4648 little pictures (some repeat more than others). There are 297 Honda bikes, 200 Suzuki bikes, 97 Moto Guzzi bikes, 95 Triumph bikes and 41 Harley Davidson bikes, for a total of 730 individual motorcycle pictures spread and placed to form one big picture. Once I had all my pictures I uploaded them into easymoza.com which gave me a digital copy of the image you see now. I then had it printed and laminated by bureau en gros; and that formed the final image you now see.

The Great Triumph on Influencing Music Culture
By Sahra Ross

My project is a pencil drawn and shaded picture of a Triumph Bonneville T100 2010 motorcycle with a mountain scenery in the back. Around the motorcycle I have written 53 songs and who composed them that were influenced by the motorcycle. My art project represents the impact of motorcycles on the music culture and how widely spread this influence goes in society. I was inspired to do this type of project because I love listening to all kinds of music so that’s when I thought about the motorcycles influence on music. I decided to draw with only a pencil because I find that shading really makes the art stand out, also I find that the focus is more on the meaning of the art than the colours. I chose the Triumph Bonneville T100 motorcycle to draw for two reasons; firstly it was somewhat of a salute to Triumph motorcycles because for a while their motorcycle had problems but after 2009 they started making fully functioning ones again. Secondly, I chose this bike because it is my dream motorcycle. The songs I chose were at random, I picked any song that either the entire song was about motorcycles or only one small part was about bikes, I tried to pick a variety of genres too.

My Little Red Vespa
By Paige Matheson

Inspired by the small khaki Cushman Airborne motorcycles used in WWII, the Vespa was first released to the public in April of 1946, and was the inspiration for many later designs. The Vespa was an important innovation, created to be an affordable mode of transportation for the post war population of Italy. Inspiration for this project came from a picture on Pinterest that caught my attention. I especially liked the string art approach because it is fun and original.

The Machine
By Wesley Smith

My special art project takes the form of a digital artwork, printed and framed. I call the type of art I’m doing a “Word painting.” Essentially, a word painting is where someone takes an object and creates a silhouette of that object using words which either describe the object itself, or name the parts of said object. In my project’s case, I decided to do the latter; the words for each part warp to fit the general shape of that part, this ultimately forms the shape of a motorcycle. When I started this project, I was hoping to represent the feeling that a motorcyclist has when he rides. Simply from doing my own interview for class, and hearing other stories I had a general idea that one of the common connections between each motorcyclist is their enjoyment of the openness, simplicity, and responsiveness of their machine. My plan was always to do something with words, but it changed a bit along the way. This piece breaks down the motorcycle into its principle parts and, I think, really exemplifies those three common traits motorcyclists usually talk about. My piece is simple, but also complex in a way, just like riding a bike. The idea and inspiration behind this project took a while to come up with. When I first started to look at the assignment, I was really at a loss for what I was going to do. Then I started to think back to the interview assignment, and that’s when I had the idea of what I wanted to represent, what draws people to ride. What remained was the medium by which I would present that. There were easier things I could have chosen, like photography, but instead I felt like challenging myself. I had one graphic design class in high school and haven’t done anything with that knowledge since. That’s what drove me to take this route, and I think it worked out well.

By: Yann Leblanc & Dillon MacLeod

Here she is, the bike which will bring back great memories of your motorcycle past. Nostalgic gets its name from the nostalgic feeling you’ll get when sitting on her. Through watching videos on Youtube and suggestions from friends and family, we knew we wanted to make a pretty much full size motorcycle. We were inspired to make a bike from scratch and scrap, because we wanted to test ourselves and our abilities to work as a team and persevere through all the challenges that came with it. We are hoping to give men and women who are unable to ride anymore, a similar feeling with the wind blowing through their hair, sitting on that seat holding those extended handlebars. We wanted to make one of the best art pieces to catch everyone’s eyes, and we believe Nostalgic will be just that. Our main structure is composed of an old bicycle, some spare pieces of wood, a car tire, and metal framing we welded with the help of someone experienced to make it perfect; and with that Nostalgic was born. We attached a small fan to the front in between the handle bars facing the rider, to give the feeling that he/she may desire but not be able to ride anymore for a number of reasons. Add in the seat, lights, extended handlebars and some paint work and she was complete. Over the past weeks we have put many hours into this bike and we are really pleased with the result, and it looks just as good as we imagined it would.


As always, I am proud of my students. I appreciate the time that they took in making this event special for the entire campus community.

About The Artists

My students studied at Champlain College Lennoxville located in Quebec, Canada. A Touch of Art Part Deux: Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies was completed as part of a special project for Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies in the Department of Humanities.

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  1. Your exhibit looks great! Really really nice things were made. I can’t believe the big bike!

  2. WOW is the first word that comes to mind. You are lucky to have such creative and engages students Mister Corbin. I especially liked "The Chobbeer" by Joelle, the beautiful Mosaic "A bike made of bikes" by Jeremie and "The Machine" by Wesley.

    I sure wish I had a teacher like you when I was a young man...Keep doing what you love.