You may be familiar with the popular statement, “The Earth without art is just ‘Eh’.” It’s one of my favorite sayings.
A few things have influenced my decision to bring this topic back around for discussion: One, it’s almost constantly swimming around in my head. Two, going to the open discussion last Thursday in the gallery got the gears grinding even more than usual. Three, the phase of the project I’ve started in my theatrical design class relates directly to this idea. The fourth and final thing that cemented my decision to talk about this was something that Guilford College posted earlier today on Twitter:
Just click the picture to go to the article. It’s short, so go ahead and skim it…done? Okay. The title of the article is “Who Knew? Arts Education Fuels the Economy”…I hope you can sense how sassily exasperated I am at that statement. Who knew? Artists, that’s who. Art teachers. Art students. We might not have known the statistics, and we’re immensely grateful that someone finally pointed them out, but if anyone were to say to us that arts education was useless to the economy, it’d be like telling a whale he failed swimming class (both of which garner the response, “Wrong!”)
In theatrical design, we were asked to read Romeo and Juliet and find a few images and a piece of music that represent it the best to us. I recognized the beautiful misery of Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy, and what images better represent that idea to me than paintings by Vincent van Gogh? His paintings may be beautiful, but he was a tragic person. The way I approached this was to find adjectives actually used in the text and then research van Gogh to find works that showcased that adjective for me personally. For a quick example, one adjective I found was ‘lamentable,’ for which I chose two images: Vincent van Gogh’s “Shoes” from 1888 and his “Mourning Old Man” from 1890. While viewing the images, allow John Williams’ beautiful but mournful theme from Schindler’s List to further influence your perceptions of the paintings and what you know about Romeo and Juliet:
I won’t go any further for my sake and yours, because I think that would throw me into a tangent that may last for several pages. The point, in this context, is that in this theatre class, we’re using visual art to represent a design prospect with the aid of music. If that isn’t a meeting of the artistic minds, I don’t know what is. You just experienced multiple “arts” at once, entangled together. Awesome, wasn’t it?
In this way, we can see how intertwined and irreplaceable the arts are for each other, and not just how they’re important everywhere else, which is how I’m usually armed and ready to approach my soap box. Here, we not only see how important the arts are to everything else – it also becomes clear how everything else has an immense effect on art. Art, theatre, design, music, and dance can all be influenced by each other or by anything from the weather to pop culture to politics and more. That’s why the open discussion in the gallery with Adele Wayman and Carol Stoneburner was one of the sparks to writing about this – they spoke in depth about women’s studies’ influence on Adele’s art. It got me thinking about influence in general, and how all things play a part in how our world’s art shows the cultures and ideas we live in or get inspiration from.
The arts aren’t just showcases for the talented, they’re also what allow us to thrive and preserve our history, and, indeed, they stimulate our economy. So I apologize for this slightly off-beat, kind of feisty post, but I hope it gets you pondering just as hard as I’ve pondered the subject. If I did that, the soap box was well worth it, and I pass it on to you: If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please feel free to leave them for us in the comments section below.
Content Warning: This article contains depictions and discussions of sexual violence and (non)consensual sexual activity.
Here is a word defined by Susanna Westberg that you most likely will not find in Webster Dictionary, but may have more meaning than the average lingo:
UnSilence verb 1. to break silence, speak out or share what may have previously been silenced by self or others
Try thinking of unsilencing as a form of storytelling, only the story that is being told is one that people are not going to feel comfortable telling or hearing — it’s not a fairytale or happily ever after kind of story by any means. This is the primary theme of the Violence UnSilenced, an exhibition organized by the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee to break the silence of sexual violence on the Guilford College campus and by extension in our world.
Guilford community members directly or indirectly affected by sexual violence submitted their work in the form of poetry and art work to the SVPC as an expression of their experiences. Susanna Westberg of Campus Life and member of SVPC points out that “these experiences and individuals are often shamed or even threatened by others and by cultural norms. Everyone is impacted by sexual assault in some way and this exhibition is a means for people to “speak” out (unsilence) with their thoughts, experiences or reflections on sexual assault, sexual violence and consent through creative means and share with the community”.
In a more general sense, the act of unsilencing is not limited to sexual violence but any oppressed group. It can expose any and all injustices that have occurred historically or are deeply embedded in our culture. Susanna notes that we are all impacted by sexual violence in one way or another, which I also take to mean that we are all aware of the harsh realities that this world holds. Now, when it was initially revealed to me that everyone has been affected by sexual violence, as Susanna mentions, I thought “…really?” but I’m realizing that, yes, it’s true. Sexual violence, racism, classism, sexism, transphobia, ageism, ableism and homophobia are only some of the oppressions that take place in our culture and we are all affected by it consciously or even unconsciously. Our culture is affected by acting hatefully, inhumanely or inconsiderately to one another or being silenced on these issues.
Maya Angelou said that there is no agony like an untold story inside of you. This exhibition raises awareness about the realities of sexual assault, create a dialogue and work toward ending sexual assault. It is an empowering experience to tell a story that has been kept inside for so long, but these stories are the ones that need to be told.
For those on campus looking for more information or with concerns on the subject of sexual violence, contact Campus Life or Gaither Terrell at the Milner Health Center. SAASA holds meetings Tuesday evenings in the Hut at 8:30 pm for additional student support.
Violence UnSilenced is on display in the basement of Mary Hobbs until March 14 in the Greenleaf. A reception is being held tonight at 6:00 pm.
Greensboro is having a moment. After a few years of build up, Gate City is hitting its cultural stride. Post-grads are sticking around after graduation, a brand new independent newspaper just launched, new restaurants are opening their doors, and an already large art scene is flourishing. The Gatewood Gallery at UNCG is only adding to this growth and excitement. On Sunday March 2nd, they opened the doors to their current exhibit, “We Join Spokes Together In a Wheel”, showcasing art by talented students from universities throughout the Triad. Curators Lee Walton and Chris Thomas are embracing the forward momentum in Greensboro by breaking students out of their individual bubbles and bringing them together over their love and talent for art. Through thoughtful composition, Chris and Lee hope the physical integration of art works leads to collaboration between students at different institutions.
The gallery opening embraced the atmosphere of collaboration really successfully, integrating the displayed art with student musical performances, and (like any great gallery opening) hot dogs and corn hole. The afternoon started off with a panel of local arts professionals: Xandra Eden, Events Curator for the Weatherspoon, Jenny Carlisle, Production Coordinator for Elsewhere, and our own Mark Dixon, sculpture professor and performance artist. They were tasked with discussing Regionalism in art, a nebulous and formerly negative term. These panelists are part of a group who are working to reclaim Regionalism from the former connotations- American heartland, anti-urban art- to a new definition- art that is unique to place related concerns that also belongs to a global community.
There is still a lot of discussion on how to implement Regionalism in arts culture, but the work on display at Gatewood right now is a great start. For instance, Guilford student and former Hand/Eye writer Adam Faust is showing a series of 4 photographs taken in Italy, each featuring unnoticed details of everyday life. The subjects are location specific, but there is an undeniable universal nature to the photos. Just a few steps away is a huge multi-media work by UNCG student Mary Chong. The piece is a two-dimensional, tornado shaped patchwork sculpture, funneling down to a small black picture frame. It holds the wall with its domineering presence, but still fits in well with the works surrounding it, all created by artists from other schools.
As someone who personally helped hang the work at Gatewood last week, I can say first hand that it was amazing to see how well all of the pieces fit together. Students who have never met, who come from different places and work in different mediums created a cohesive exhibition of work that was relatively easy to piece together. In one section, a painting of an abstracted face perfectly mirrors the shape and color of ceramic Olmec heads. One student is from Guilford, the other Greensboro College. Another wall shows a large painting, two drawings, and two sculptures, all from different artists, yet tells an apparent story of color and theme.
Spokes in a Wheel is exciting for more than just the great art that has come out of it. This is a sort of trial run for SALT, Students Art League of the Triad, an initiative thought up by Lawrence Jenkins. Upon its creation, SALT would give local art students a space to show their work, collaborate with other students, and learn business practices. Jenkin’s idea, like the rest of Greensboro, has an incredible amount of momentum. It will be fascinating to see if this short-lived exhibit (Spokes in a Wheel is only up until March 20th!) will contribute to the energy towards SALT or present a larger challenge than expected. I can’t wait to see where we take this.
If you are a local student or art lover, head on over to Gatewood Gallery now and see We Join Spokes Together In a Wheel while it lasts. Information is on their website, http://gatewoodgallery.com. To learn more about SALT, check out a recent article in the News and Observer found here
“Thinking back about your career for 40 years is rewarding and intimidating at the same time.”
That’s the first thing that Adele Wayman, professor and artist extraordinaire, said to me when we started talking about her current exhibition in the Guilford Library gallery. This showing of her works represents her time as our mentor.
When I spoke with Adele, we both agreed that this article should appeal more to Guilford art students instead of the general masses – that’s being done over at The Guilfordian, Guilford’s Award-Winning weekly newspaper, in an article by Allie Baddley, which will come out on their website Friday, February 28th. Be sure to check that out! Adele and I chatted about her work on a more personal level, though, which will allow us to take a closer look at the ideals and themes present beyond the paint and canvas.
Religious, spiritual, and feminist themes pop up in every piece – references to Judaism, Buddhism, and Wicca are prevalent, as Adele says she uses her painting practice as an accompaniment and extension to her spiritual practices. This, along with strong ties to feminism, makes this exhibition much more than a career retrospective. In the panel texts hanging alongside the art, Adele says, “I wanted to take this traditional ‘lady’s medium’ to a bigger scale, and work with ambitious content.” When she began to wonder about the lack of women artists in her professors’ curricula, she found out a lot about female artists on her own.
“My consciousness-raising experiences included reading Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” with a powerful group of women, much talk with close women friends, and Carol Stoneburner’s passionate creation of Women’s Studies at Guilford…Only later when I realized how many other artists had been left out of the standard textbooks, did I create and teach “Modern Stories of Art” (1999 and 2001). The art stories focused on African American women artists, to tell my students about some of the complexities of identity, race, and gender in the art world.”
Adele named some of the pieces in the show that represent these themes the strongest, and after another visit to view the show, I’ve decided to focus on the one that speaks to me the loudest – Copper Goddess.
My earliest recollection of recognizing feminism came from wondering if God was really a man. If humans were created in “His” image, why were some of us female? Why couldn’t God be a woman? Or neither male nor female? These questions which I pondered throughout my child- and young adulthood grew progressively sassier the longer they bounced around my mind, so when I got to college and took a sociology class, I was exposed to more trains of thought about feminism. I realized that God doesn’t necessarily have to be a man just because the all-inclusive pronoun used to represent both genders at once is almost always masculine. These questions are dealt with in everyday life on and off our campus and in popular culture – anyone remember Alanis Morissette’s cameo playing God in the 1999 film ‘Dogma’? Adele also grapples with this notion in Copper Goddess, even taking it another step further by allowing the “copper” to recognize the fact that the goddess could be any race – or, indeed, all races. Wiccan traditions are realized in the natural and historic representations found in the piece – I think the rich, thick texture created by the oil sticks and paint complements the weightiness of those symbols very nicely. By working on this piece directly on the wall, the middle-man we call the easel is cut out, which I would imagine allows the painting to become more of an extension of spiritualism and more of a zen-like meditative experience. This work is not barred by a frame, and is instead allowed to hang freely on the wall, opening it to the audience so they, too, can experience all of the spirit it has to offer. So, this piece suggests that an omnipotent being may not always be a specific race or a specific gender.
Clearly, I could talk about feminism in art forever, but I’ll leave some musings to your own mind and to the upcoming talk on this very topic. Next Thursday, March 6th at 7:30pm, a public dialogue between Adele and the founding director of the Women’s Studies program at Guilford, Carol Stoneburner, will be held in the gallery. More of the influences of feminism and the Women’s Studies program on Adele’s artwork will be discussed there, and I simply cannot wait. Be sure to get there on time, because according to Adele, the opening is going to be something you won’t want to miss – I’ll let you be surprised.
I thought I knew what music sounded like until I went to see Brooklyn Sounds: Copland Meets the Moderns presented by Forecast Music at Reynolda House this past Saturday. In my world I thought that there were several elements that music needs to be, well, music; like rhythm, a beat, harmony and chord progressions.
So I’m at this concert and while the musicians are tuning their instruments, I’m thinking this is going to be something like Beethoven’s Minuet in G minor; I was wrong. Before I knew it, the players seemed to not only be out of tune, but they were also striking their instruments creating harsh and abrupt sounds. Clearly I had no idea who Aaron Copland was or what he did for music, but I think I do now.
In brief, Aaron Copland set the stage for Modern music in the United States starting in the 1920s. From his music came subsequent experimental composers, such as Timo Andres, John Corigliano and Derek Bermel, all of whom were performed at Brooklyn Sounds. Each of these composers created music to move people out of their comfort zones during a transformative period in United States history.
This concert was in conjunction with the current exhibition at Reynolda House: The Brooklyn Museum’s American Moderns, 1910–1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell, where over 53 works are on display by American artists apart of the Modern movement, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Stuart Davis and Max Weber. The exhibition depicts the many cultural upheavals during the twentieth century — Great Depression, WWII, color TV and Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement just to name a few.
Now, I’m an art history lover so I at least like to think that I know my fair share about Modernism, but this concert really furthered my understanding. For me, Modernism is about changes in response to previous ways of being or practicing. It was a movement about pushing societal boundaries.
When asked how Modernism in music compared to visual arts, James Douglass, pianist for Forecast Music and assistant professor of collaborative piano at UNCG, says that, “A painter has complete control over the structure and expression of a painting, where music takes another layer; the players actualize that structure and expression in the piece”.
An example from the concert is Orbit Design by Derek Bermel, where players are to perform the piece while walking around as if in orbit. The music provides 5 indications for how to rotate, but beyond that there’s not much more instruction. The performers are free to interpret and express how the music is to be played, hitting whichever note they feel is right at whatever time.
I walked away with a new and continued understanding of Modernism, learning that nothing is concrete because times change, norms should be questioned and we should push the limits. I had an experience of unlearning, if you will, where my norms were questioned and broadened.
American Moderns will be on display until May 4, 2014 at the Reynolda House of American Art in Winston Salem.
Think of a time you have been awestruck by a piece of art. Stopped in your tracks, overcome by an inexplicable feeling that leaves you speechless. A surprising moment that can solidify or redefine how you see art.
That is just how I felt during a recent trip with my photography class to the Sechrest Gallery at High Point University. Their current exhibit, Merry Moor Winnett: Photographic Personal Perspective, is a retrospective of a beloved former Guilford professor and her work. The exhibit holds 45 of the hundreds of surreal photographs she created overtime, each specifically displayed to show the progression of her work and life. Our class was incredibly lucky to have toured the gallery with Cherl Harrison, High Point University photograph professor and one of Merry’s close friends. She was able to give us a peek behind the scenes of every picture, explaining her process and inspirations.
As I walked from picture to carefully chosen picture, I was enamored. Almost all of her works are hand-painted photographs, compiled from exposing multiple negatives. She effortlessly created fantastical scenes; of women slowly fading into a window, of the moon resting in a field, of a Pegasus flying over palm trees. Her pieces are playful, experimental, and expressive. They present unfamiliar scenes evoking familiar emotions.
Continuing to browse in my happy and awed state, I began to notice more and more detail in her pieces. Glitter, embroidered string, coins, and layers of fabric simply adorn her work, reinforcing the playful yet meticulous hand of Merry. I found myself drawn to the pictures that were the most unconventional. I stood and stared at one piece, called First and Second Lutheran Churches, for a while. Thin pieces of pastel colored fabric hovered and hugged a piece of photo paper, stitched together with thread. This picture is nondescript, with no clues other than its title, but evokes layers of emotion, from calm to sadness.
On the other end of the spectrum, another work I found myself most attracted to was called The Left One Left. This portrays her bare chest immediately following her mastectomy, the image repeated and layered several times. Framing the pictures are carnations and nails in alternating corners, providing an unexpected but understood juxtaposition. Much of Merry’s work in this show balances life and death, a direct response to her struggle with breast cancer. Merry passed away in 1994 while she was teaching at Guilford, leaving behind a beautiful collection of work, but many unanswered questions, particularly about what shape her work would have taken with the progression of photographic technology like Photoshop. However, what she made is nothing short of incredible.
Feel inspired yet? Merry’s work will be on display at the Sechrest Gallery until February 27th. Her moon series pieces are also on display on the third floor of Frank. To learn more about her and see her work, visit http://www.merrymoorwinnett.com