Art Students Create Toys for Elephants

Who can resist a project like this?  This story is fun on at least eight levels at once.

The art students are challenged with a real-world problem.   Being challenged can be fun, especially when you are working with others and have some resources and some hope of “success.”

The students are stretching to think about someone else’s reality as a basis for their artistic choices.  How refreshing to see the challenge framed as making something that will be fun for an intelligent but non-human being.

The students use their creativity to come up with concepts for toys and have resources with which to build and test their ideas.  Getting to play with ideas and materials is fun.

They get to meet elephants and see the elephants play with their toys.  Yeah!

The elephants have new experiences with the toys.  We hope these are fun for them and would love to see even more about this.

Videographer Lauren Frohne creates this video and The Boston Globe posts it.  Thanks Lauren.  Thanks Boston Globe.

We all get to see and enjoy it. Thanks MassArt students and faculty.  Thanks elephants!

As with so many projects in the arts, there is a multiplier effect.  Many people (and animals, in this case!) get something out of this.  Win-Win-Win-Win…

Big fun!

2 thoughts on “Art Students Create Toys for Elephants

  1. Your brother Don told me on the phone the other night that only four species have self awareness. It is tested by putting something on the face and then having the creature look in a mirror and that creature realizing that they are looking at an image of themselves. Humans, chimps, dolphins and elephants. All seem to have a concept of self. Many creatures like to play, e.g. otters.


    1. It’s interesting to know that these four are self-aware and others have not been shown to be. I wonder how a toy could allow an elephant to “play with” their awareness and whether something like a mirror would be “fun” or upsetting?

      I haven’t researched it in depth, but it also seems as though many of the more strikingly playful animals are predators and some of the activities that they do while playing are useful for developing skills they will need and use as adults for more serious purposes (catching prey and fighting). So in that sense, play is the work of their childhoods and a way of testing and increasing both mental and physical skills.


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