On February 3, Joe Meiser filled the Samek Art Gallery with literally thousands of yellow balloons as part of his exhibition INFLUX.
This struck me for more than one reason. One, it completely changes the way you experience, feel, perceive, and even more around in the gallery setting.
You oddly become aware of your feet. But I think it was also an interesting experience because instead of meandering through the gallery as I usually would, passively gazing at each work as I moved about the space, I took a break between each work. The balloons grabbed my attention, not only because they loved to pop and scare the skittles out of me, they made me focus on something else, allowing me to contemplate each work in my mind, and to cleanse my palette before looking at the next piece. In this way it allowed me to approach each work afresh and to take more time.
Secondly, the gallery, the balloons, the installation, and the many people present for Joe’s talk and reception made the environment incredibly lively. This is how museums should be, to hell with the solemn, quite, and passive halls of the Metropolitan, I want people talking and moving. Check out this video of the reception and you’ll see what I mean:
Now, unfortunately, all of the balloons are gone, but the exhibition is still up until March 29.
Friday January 27, 2012 through Thursday March 29, 2012
200,000 years ago, the first Homo Sapiens had to face the problem of mortality, but under radically different circumstances. As our conditions have evolved and our narratives have become more complex, our collective understanding of mortality has changed. Human innovation has transformed our world, providing a higher standard of living and countless methods of prolonging human existence. Our present day technologies have even advanced to the point that some degree of immortality seems plausible through cryogenic preservation and reanimation, or the digital replication of consciousness, or the possibility that life-saving organ transplants will someday become as routine as the 10-minute oil change. These advances in science and medicine make us feel that we have some degree of control over death, but those of us living today will probably not be around long enough to take advantage of these technologies, so we must each come to terms with mortality.
One who contemplates the significance of death in today’s ever-shrinking global community will have no shortage of religious, philosophical, or scientific narratives to consider. In fact, people today are bombarded with such a wide variety of perspectives on mortality that it can be difficult to negotiate the incongruities and determine a particular vantage point. It was my desire to better understand what death means in our contemporary era that led me to create this body of work.
Image: The Two Deaths of Socrates (detail), 2011, dimensions variable (each figure is 32” tall), cast plastic, expanding foam, steel, wood, and other materials
October 1st, 2011, Samek Art Gallery, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A creative, collaborative installment performed by students in Bucknell’s first Extreme Creativity class. Just another artistic event, right? Not even close. This installation is the culmination of weeks of intense focus and commitment from students, faculty, and staff members, and embodies unbelievable amounts of collaboration from both University and external resources.
The idea for the course was inspired by Princeton University’s “Princeton Atelier” program. The team creating Extreme Creativity desired to bring such a dynamic, interdisciplinary arts collaborative course to Bucknell. And so the Extreme Creativity capstone course was born – a sponsored partnership between the Samek Gallery and the Griot Institute for Africana Studies that brings renowned artists and scholars to the Bucknell campus and into the educational endeavors of Bucknell students, creating a unique opportunity for students to experience multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives through the creative processes of writing, film, photography, drama and dance. The structure of the course is also quite innovative – instead of a regular semester progression, the course is condensed into a six week period that consists of three 3-hour meetings per week. This timeframe facilitates student engagement with experts whose schedules would not allow a semester commitment, and, of course, requires a commendable amount of student dedication.
Photographers Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Myra Greene have, in the Samek Gallery, staged a joint exhibition of their photographs that concern questions of race and representation. Students have immersed themselves into the backgrounds and contexts of these works, and guest Bucknell faculty members have been teaching understandings of the photographs through their own specific disciplinary lenses that reflect their field’s particular methodologies and theoretical perspectives. Guest Bucknell faculty include Tulu Bayar (Art and Art History), Barry Long (Music), Dustyn Martinchic (Theatre and Dance), Joe Meiser (Art and Art History), Shara McCallum (English), Alex Riley (Sociology and Anthropology), Harriet Rosenberg (Penn State), and Elaine Williams (Theatre and Dance) and the course is conducted by Carmen Gillespie (English, University Arts Coordinator). Also working with the project are Cindy Peltier (Samek Gallery), Rick Rinehart (Samek Gallery), Erin Murphy (LIT), and Robert Gainer (Theatre and Dance, emeritus.) Students respond to these various viewpoints through an array of creative projects, and ultimately culminate their class experiences into a final installation that unifies their many creations and performances into a cohesive response to both the photographs and the complex ideas the photographs express. The artists who are featured in the exhibition, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Myra Greene presented lectures in conjunction with the exhibition and spent time with the students in the class. Greene’s lecture is scheduled for September 30, at 5 pm in the ELC forum. Additionally, film students Diego Chiri, Annike Myers, and Jose Valdivia are producing a documentary of the class project.
The installation is being coordinated by interdisciplinary artist and University of Michigan professor Petra Kuppers, whose broad exposure to various cultures, ideologies, communities, countries, languages, and to the realm of disability presents students with a powerful and insightful perspective into the workings of the world. Professor Kuppers will be in residence at Bucknell from September 20 – until October 2 and will present a noon workshop for faculty on interdisciplinary pedagogy on September 27 in the Samek Gallery, which is co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning and Women and Gender Studies.
The performative installation of Extreme Creativity is free and open to the public and is scheduled for Saturday, October 1, from 11 am – 1 pm in the Samek Gallery and will include a luncheon reception.