The installation class finished last semester outside of the classroom and brought their installations into the community. It turned from installation to public art. The semester started with students getting out of their comfort zones and it ended the same way. It was a challenge as students were assigned to find a space in the community to install their last piece. The biggest question was: do you find the space and make the installation fit the space or do you make an installation and find a space to fit the installation first? Which comes first? The space or the artwork? Each student approached it differently.
Staysa Berber, a grad student who is greatly interested in nature, chose Frontier Park. She made a sort of scavenger hunt / nature walk complete with a map. She placed little ceramic animals all over the park, and the places to find them were marked on the map. To her surprise, some of her pieces were missing by the time the class got there. But that’s the beauty of it — people interacted. It was fun to look around and find each piece. Most students made the comment that they were expecting big pieces and were surprised to find tiny animals.
Deidra Fix created an extension from her previous time installation where she collected the bottles from everything she drank in 48 hours. For this installation, she collected the bottles and cans from everything she drank in a month. She had a lot. From her cans and bottles, she created some flower-like shapes by gluing the bottles together. As a sort of statement on recycling and littering, she placed her “flowers” in Big Creek, which is quite a trashy and dirty creek. When the students came upon her installation scene, someone had also messed with it. They had torn apart some of her flowers and placed some of them in the creek. It turned out to be okay though because the way the flowers floated down the creek and glistened in the sunlight was beautiful. And that was her objective — to make something beautiful out of trash. She practiced what she preached and got the students involved by collecting all the bottles.
Sam Schmidt works at Casual Graphics, so for her installation, she used some coworker participation. She left a piece of board in her shop and told everyone to put their scraps from making vinyl signs on the board. So it was basically a trash mural that she hung on the side of her work building. It was interesting to touch and feel her piece. There was a lot to look at it. Sam said she had a lot of fun contributing to the piece and coming in to work everyday to see it change. She also said it was great to do something different. She likes control, so for this piece she just let go and let it be what it was. Some students made the comment that it would have been funny to set it up like a really important gallery piece like the Mona Lisa — make it look really important.
Mark Roundtree had a sort of performance-like piece. He took the class to the back of an apartment complex that had “hate black people” written on the wall in spray paint. He started by telling the class a story about how he was walking home one day and saw the graffiti. He said he felt like it was talking to him. If a white person were to walk by that, they wouldn’t think twice. Which most of the class agreed as they had never noticed it. But it stood out to him. He said he felt like that person was talking straight to him, like whoever it was hated him. He also explained how shocking it was that something like that was up there. Who knows how long it had been there? After his told he story, he taped up some drawings that changed the graffiti to say, “love all people”. While the class was there, two men walked up and asked what we were doing. Of course, the class thought we were going to get in trouble, but after we explained, the men said thought it was awesome. They told us that they had offered to cover up the graffiti before but the owners never took action and told them to go for it. It was a pleasant shock. Mark’s drawings stayed up for awhile, but with weather and what not, they fell down eventually. The graffiti has since been covered up though. So now there are just two black boxes on the back of that building instead of words of hate. What an awesome change Mark started.
Justin Longbine set up his installation on the FHSU campus. He drew some larger than life portraits on wood of people that were great friends of his and had a huge part in his life. And each portrait was connected together with a series of strings. They were all intertwined. If you tried to follow one, you’d get lost as they went up, under, around, through, circled a tree, then who knows where. The portraits were great because they captured the likeness of his friends so well — he even drew one of himself. He said he enjoyed drawing on the wood and would like to do it more. His installation was really interactive because students had to walk all the way around it to get every aspect of it. Justin said he’d like to do something similar again for his BFA show.
Amy Warfield created a reading oasis in an unknown place by her apartment complex. It was a little hike to get down there. She said a lot of people came to this area to smoke, so why not create something there for people to do while they smoke or just something to stumble upon. She hung books from a tree and placed a blanket under the tree to sit and read. It was interesting to watch the books sway in the wind. It was so peaceful. It was fun to pick a book out of the tree and flip through the pages too.
Molly Walter has been making statements about abandoned buildings. She’s trying to make them noticed, and by making them noticed, she wants to fill them. She wants to bring attention to America’s building hoarding problem. So for this installation, she also did somewhat of an extension of her last installation where she drew a building and wove over a portion of it. This time, she actually put a weaving on that same building. While she wanted to actually cover the whole building, that was too big of a project, so she stuck to one window. She arranged her weavings in a way to catch people’s eye. She said the project was great and had a lot of potential, but she had a lot of ideas to make it better, and so did the class. It was interesting to hash out ideas that she can possibly use in the future for more of her fiber works.
Time to move out of the gallery. Have to paint the walls, mop the floor, etc. Has to look as good as it was when we started class in January. We’re sad to be moving out of the space, but excited for the opportunities it opens! Look for installations to be appearing all around Hays over the next few weeks because we’re takin’ it to the streets.
Students documented a consecutive 48 hours to create an installation.
Deidra Fix made a statement on consumerism and saved the containers of everything she drank in 48 hours. While it wasn’t as much as she was expecting, it was still a lot of drinks. While Deidra didn’t save as many beverage containers as she thought she would, this project has become a segway into her next installation.
Justin Longbine set up somewhat of a science experiment. He soaked drawings in water and presented the soaked drawings as his installation. He expected them to deteriorate more, but the drawings all stayed together.
For Josh Novak’s 48 hours, he filmed the process of creating a ceramics piece. He filmed somewhere around 30 hours total for an hour of video. The action of him throwing paired with his music choice was almost mesmerizing. It was interesting to see the process.
Molly Walter took a screen shot of her phone every time she picked it up to check it whether it was to check the time, an email, or a message. She took 208 screen shots total. She printed them off and taped them to the wall. It was fun to read what different texts said and try to speculate what the conversation was like.
Mark Roundtree drew during different periods of time during his 48 hours. On each drawing, he marked when he started and when he stopped.
Amber Smith illustrated cartoons of different events that happened in her 48 hours.
Staysa Berber wrote in script each text message she received. She loved the irony of handwriting something digital. She wrote the texts on lined paper like what grade schoolers use.
Jessica Seifers created a clock using broken glass over her 48 hour period and documented the process. The clock was a beautiful glass, mosaic sculpture.
While this was a short project, each installation was still interesting. It was a fun transitional piece to move into the next set of installations which will be out in the community!
The installation class had their first gallery opening Friday night. There was a small turnout of people to the show, but it was a great way for students to get their work out into the community. The class worked hard on all of their projects, so it was great that they had to opportunity to show them in a professional manner.
See the installation class’s work this Friday at the Hays Arts Center Annex, 1010 Main St, Hays, KS. The gallery will be open from 7 – 9 p.m. The FHSU Annual Student Honors Exhibition is also Friday from 7 – 9 at Moss Thorns Gallery in Rarick Hall. Several drawing students will also be exhibiting work there.
For the next set of installations, students were to explore boundaries and structures. It could be taken literally or figuratively. While some student explored their own structure and some explored boundaries in society, the students advanced quite a bit since the last project. Each student created a piece that was exponentially better than their last piece.
Even though students were allowed to use any materials they needed for the installation, they were required to use a whole piece of 9 ft x 5 ft paper, which became a boundary itself for some students.
Amy Warfield installed three drawn dresses and two real dresses to adress structures that everyone carries with them on a daily basis — clothes. Everyone wears clothes, and while it is a structure in society, it is also a boundary.
Diedra Fix explored the structures of herself. She created a piece that was personal to her. In her silhouette she drew in great detail and realism all the good components that have made her who she is today. Then on the floor was a door matt her silhouette stood on where she drew all of the bad things that had contributed to who she is today.
Sam Schmidt adressed invisible boundaries with a non-objective piece. She created an invisible frame around pieces of paper she cut out in abstract shapes. She conveyed the structures and boundaries that aren’t enforced but that everyone lives by. For her, she said going to college was one of those. It’s not a requirement that is enforced, yet college seems to be the place everyone goes after high school.
Mark Rountree depicted the boundary between life and death by drawing three dead rock stars. With those three drawings on the floor, he placed three mirrors above them for viewers to see themselves in. He said that we can’t reach dead people. We can’t talk to them. So that’s a boundary. But we can connect to them through their music.
Justin Longbine wanted to impose a boundary on the viewer. He drew an unattractive male torso with the arm extending out, but the arm came off the wall and wrapped around, covering up part of the drawing and only showing the torso. Justin wanted to see if people would be curious to go into the “cave” he created to see the rest of the drawing or if the torso would turn people off.
Molly Walter addressed literal structure in her installation by drawing an abandoned building on Main St. She juxtaposed a weaving over the building in an attempt to make it more attractive. Molly explored ways to make abandoned buildings more wanted. In a way, she was weaving the building back into society.
Amber Smith drew three character surrounded by zombies with a fence as the only boundary between the two. While the fence wasn’t much, it was the only form of a boundary of protection for the three characters.
A few students from the installation class along with Amy took a trip to Salina to attend an artist talk by the current artist in residence at the Salina Arts Center, Andy Webster. A Great Britain native, Webster’s approach to his work was unique and fantastic to learn more about and dive in to.
Webster focuses on the relationship between the artist and the material. Instead of controlling the material to create the outcome he wants, Webster lets the material steer him and steer how the work turns out. He doesn’t want to impose an aesthetic but have an aesthetic imposed on him. “How can I have reciprocal dialog with materials where they steer my actions as much as I steer theirs?” he said. He is less worried about the work working and less worried about the formal success.
One piece where he exhibited this question was A liquid solution dispersed by a breath of air (multiple times). He created a tube and blew into it, dispersing liquid solutions to make a variety of flower-like shapes that mirrored the shape of his lungs and he breathed. Even though the only control Webster had was his breath, the solutions responded beautifully.
In Several weeks of radio, Webster used local radio stations over the period of a week to grow sculptures. He fed the radio into and electrochemical device that in turn grew crystal-like forms from the sound waves The only control he had in these pieces was what radio station he played.
In One gallon of Fal river mud redistributed by foot over 90 minutes + 6 minutes added time, Webster collected a gallon of mud from Fal River and covered a soccer ball with this mud. He then kicked the ball against a large sheet of paper. The ball created what looked like amoebic forms. It was fascinating how this simple action could mimic something so beautiful from nature. Watch the video here. Again, Webster had little control. He didn’t know what shape the ball would make as it hit the paper, nor did he know necessarily where the ball would hit.
Even though, in both of these series Webster had almost no control, the pieces still turned out beautifully. He explored what happens when you let the medium control the piece instead of you controlling the piece. Webster made that point that he had no idea how the works would turn out, but that was okay. If he failed, he failed. If he succeed he succeeded. His intentions were exploration and process and not necessarily the final outcome.
Webster has also done larger scale work, most of it being environmentally based. He was commissioned to create an installation that had to be a response to climate change. While walking along Dollis Brook, trying to find inspiration, he found soccer balls instead — tons and tons of soccer balls. For Crazy Tourist, Webster collected all of these abandoned soccer balls form Dollis Brook and scattered them across the floor of the gallery. It’s fascinating and also disturbing to face the reality that all of those balls were collected from one brook. Webster made the joke that he had already found one basketball in the creek in Salina.
One of his best pieces is A Minor Miracle. Webster wanted to create a minor miracle in Miterdale Forest. So he did that — literally. He cut letters out of wood that spelled out ‘A MINOR MIRACLE’. On these letters, he attached solar LED lights so the letters would light at night after sitting in the sun. Through this, the piece was not just some letters in the middle of a forest, but it was a response to the environment around it. And since the LED lights were cheap, the piece broke down quickly. Even though Webster had this idea and outcome in mind, his work still had a mind of its own and determined the outcome.
Webster will be at the Salina Arts Center until April 16.
All images were used with permission from the artist.
The current exhibition at the Salina Arts Center is A complex weave — Women and identity in contemporary art. This exhibition features works of art by sixteen female artists of different age and race exploring identity in being a woman which includes being a woman in other countries besides America and being a woman of a different race living in America. It’s a wonderful exhibition and well worth going to see.
Zoë Charlton questions ethnic and racial stereotypes in her work. She exhibited a video showing a young black woman bathing. When the woman first starts bathing, the water is clean, but when she finishes, the water is so dirty one cannot see through it and there is a dark ring around the tub. Charlton is showing the young woman trying to wash off her color as a statement on black women finding identity in a white world. Her drawings were also quite striking and unique in the fact that the paper was not necessarily pretty and presentable. Her paper was wrinkled and warped — something most artists would try to get rid of.
Annet Couwenberg explores female identity quite literally by creating clothing in a sense like in her installation Act Normal and That’s Already Crazy Enough where she formed what resembled cloth shoe racks into circles. In the middle of each circle read one of the words of the title. She uses clothing as a metaphor that looks at the contrast between what’s considered normal and our own desires. “It is kind of interesting for me to read your blog and rereading the title and Dutch proverb of my piece Act Normal and That’s Already Crazy Enough my mother would repeat to me quite often. Although it is ingrained in my brain rereading it in black and white again gives me that same startling feeling of being aware of staying in-line of what is expected of me by my culture and family. The work I make becomes a receptacle for introspection to distinguishing between what we are and what we have learned to be and desire,” Couwenberg said.
Another installation was created by Sonya Clark. Clark hung combs from the ceiling in spiral shapes creating “curls.” From a distance, the installation just looks like spirals hanging fromt he ceiling, but as you get up closer, you notice each curl is made up of several combs attached together at the ends. Clark uses combs in her work to evoke meaning in her materials. The combs represent hair culture, race politics, and good hair and bad hair. She says on her website, “What type of hair would easily pass through these fine-toothed combs? What does it mean that the combs themselves are arranged into tangles like felted dreadlocks, neat curls, and wavy strands? Combs imply order in as much as they are tools that organize the fibers we grow. They suggest thorough investigation as in ‘to go through something with a fine-toothed comb.’ When a comb has broken or missing teeth there is evidence of struggle. The missing teeth provide a new rhythm, the music of a new order.”
April Wood displayed two feeding devices attached to metal apparatuses. Behind these devices she made were pictures of people being “fed” with these devises. She said, “In my work, I am exploring women’s (and men’s) relationship to food and to the boundaries of their bodies. I am intrigued by ideas of nourishment as it applies to eating and also sexuality sensuality and the way that women’s bodies ride this delicate line.” The images and devices she has made are striking and almost disturbing. The pieces definitely engage the viewer.
All images were used with permission from the artist.