This past Thursday, the entire art faculty gathered in the Hege Library Gallery to discuss their work, specifically the work that has been on display in the gallery since early February. From photographs developed through unconventional methods, to hand carved wooden sculptures, to a pyramid of televisions, the diversity of the show directly reflects the range of talents and interests that reside inside of our art department. While the outline and specifications of the event were fairly explanatory, I found myself a little unsure of what to expect.
One possible avenue could be a more critical analysis of the work that possibly challenge the goals and perspectives of the artist. I feel like the title “administrator” or “instructor” unintentionally creates a shield of untouchability to the work itself, a shield that allows the artists/teachers to get away with deciding whether or not they want to defend their work in response to a group of students. But, in reality, all work begs to be questioned and validated, regardless of the audience’s merit or experience. Once the work leaves the artist’s studio it is no longer belongs to the artist, it is instead ours to do with (figuratively) what we will. In the student perspective, most of our exposure to faculty artwork happens at gallery openings, where responses are generally limited to, “wow” or “this is awesome,” as opposed to “why did you make this choice?” or “do you think this is a successful version of your initial idea?”
All that being said, I’m was kind of relieved that the conversation steered into a more comfortable direction. Instead of a public interrogation, the event played out more like an unconventional episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio. Questions didn’t really probe the validity of the work, and instead set the faculty up to deliver inspiring sentiments relating to their process and personal struggles, which in hindsight is the best thing that this event could strive to be. Because, believe it or not, every single instructor on the art faculty is really really really great at turning their personal efforts into poetic little nuggets of lasting inspiration and worth (talk to Maia Dery for like five minutes and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about).
Out of all the cool and informative events our art department has delivered this year, this one ranks as one of the best.