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Learning the art of the exhibit

How to hang ice, foxtail seeds and cell membranes

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

Though their final show in April may seem a ways off, one group of I.P. Seniors have been nudged/cajoled/given-the-great-opportunity (circle one) to begin thinking about exhibiting now, in a mid-progress show currently up at Warren Robbins gallery.

A&D seniors have a whole year to conceive and develop a substantial body of work that gets unveiled at the end of the year in venues all around the city. For many students, thinking about how to exhibit their work is low on their list of priorities. They are too busy concentrating on (or fretting about) the making process.

So it was Reed Esslinger-Payet and Sarah Berkeley, two graduate students working as GSIs for I.P, who noticed an opening in the calendar of the graduate student gallery and claimed it for the seniors.  "We really thought it was important for the students to start thinking about the realities of putting up a show. And the only way to really learn about this is to do it," says Reed. She and Sarah organized the students into committees for publicity, curating and installation and from then on, it was up to the students to put up the show.

"We were mostly excited when we heard the news," says Meredith Hoffman who minors in biology. "There are a lot of technical issues you don't think about until you're in the gallery.  My canvas is so large it was hard to transport without ruining it. And just taking the work out of the studio and seeing it in a different context than my studio has been so important.  The light is different here and there is all this other work around it that changes its impact. " says Meredith.

Here is Meredith beside her large scale drawing of the intestinal villi:

Who knew your small intestine could be so beautiful?

Meredith is interested in how biological organisms are depicted in medical literature and is working on playing with and stretching the rules and conventions of this particular visual language. In this series below, she made a rubber stamp and used various inking techniques to explore representations of the cell membrane.

Saree Silverman, below, is working on a series of sculptural shapes made out of foxtail seeds. 

Foxtail seeds?  Saree explains, "I started out the semester taking long walks in the woods and doing a lot of thinking about what was important to me. When I returned I would always have these seeds stuck to me. I suddenly became really interested in the seeds as a material and as metaphor." 

The first sculpture she tried to hang soon ripped apart. It turns out it's not so easy to hang delicate seed constructions. Now Saree is experimenting with which shapes will hold, whether they should be hung on the wall or against a window.

Saree's other explorations are in paper clay, a clay mixed with cellulose that allows you to make very precise thin objects...like replicas of ginko leaves. She loves ginko trees and is fascinated by their history. "They are the oldest living tree today. I found out that when Hiroshima was bombed, six of these ginko trees were left standing. They're very hardy. I'm exploring the relationship between fragility and resilence."

Saree made each of these clay leaves from a unique ginko leaf that she collected in the fall but she still hasn't figured out how to display them or even whether they will be part of her final project. "I'm just experimenting right now but this is the kind of problem-solving that you have to do by just trying it out," she says.

For Caroline Aulis, who would like to develop an installation where time appears to slow down, how her materials will behave in the gallery is the big unknown. Caroline has spent a lot of time conceptually mapping out her thesis and making sketches but this show is forcing her to really test out her ideas.

"I'd really like to challenge the movement and flow of liquid materials, so my idea is to hang frozen water sculptures and see if I can replicate this feeling of suspension or suspended time."

Caroline is basing her project on an Italian phrase, "dolce far niente", which means "the sweetness of doing nothing, or delicious idleness", a phrase she learned during her semester abroad in Italy. "I was so struck by the relaxed pace of life there. In Italy there's no such thing as a "coffee to go". And then I came back here and everything was so fast and hectic. So I'm interested in slowing us down – to suspend a moment in time."
 

Below are the ice balls she made by freezing water balloons in the snow. She hangs the shapes with fishing line. "It makes me nervous to do this and put it out there without having everything worked out, but I have to start somewhere!" she admits.

 

It turns out the ice balls took less then three hours to melt completely under the hot gallery lights. Besides moving her installation to the arctic, she is now on the hunt for other possible materials that will achieve her desired effect.

If you have any ideas let her know!

Come by for the exhibition's closing reception on Wednesday, January 25th in the Warren Robbins gallery to see this and other works in progress by the 20 some students in the show.