The invasion is coming. And you’ll enjoy it.
That’s the goal of this spring’s studio art senior exhibition, “When Art Attacks!,” which opens Thursday, June 3, with a 6-9 p.m. reception at the University Art Gallery and Room Gallery and runs through Friday, June 11.
“The show features 30 very different students working in various media: photography, video, painting, drawing, sculpture,” explains studio art senior Jayson Ward. “It’s like an art carnival.”
But it’s not just creating the work that concerns these students. They’re enrolled in “Senior Exhibition,” a required class in the studio art major that teaches all facets of putting on an exhibit, including fundraising, publicity and curating. “It’s a rite of passage,” says Ward.
Twice a week for the last quarter, the class has met, combining lectures, research projects, presentations, discussions, one-on-one sessions and committee work.
The last proved a challenge, starting with the show’s title. Ultimately, it was decided democratically, “almost representative of America, like a 51-49 split — right down the middle,” says Ward. He was in the minority, voting for a high-concept alternative: an underline, as in “fill in the blank.”
But whimsicality won out, referencing the camp and kitsch of 1950s B movies. “We wanted something playful — not necessarily something that reflected the artwork itself. There’s just too much diversity in the exhibit,” says Ervin Rodriguez, studio art and film & media studies senior in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.
Ward eventually embraced “When Art Attacks!”: “It’s got its own sort of cachet.”
So does the bushy black mustache that looms large in promotional materials. Why a mustache? Rodriguez says it’s a nod to some prominent — and eccentric — artists of the past, like Salvador Dali. “It also piques people’s interest,” adds Ward.
“The exhibit itself has evolved into an interactive performance piece,” says Rodriguez. Before the show’s opening, participating students will alter their Facebook profile photos to include mustaches — and perhaps berets. Big, black mustaches will also pop up around campus.
“We’ve taken ridiculous artistic tropes and tried to play with their fun aspects,” explains Rodriguez.
But don’t let the lighthearted attitude fool you. These students are seriously dedicated to their craft.
Adviser and artist Shana Lutker has encouraged them to conceptualize and create works of substance for the exhibit. Rodriguez’s entries include four stunning, black-and-white photographs chronicling three generations of women in his family.
He’s anxious to see Philip Tieu’s exploration of digital versus film photography. Tieu built his own digital photo booth, and for an hour during the opening reception, people will be photographed and then see themselves on a website. Right beside the booth will be classic film portraits. “It’s really complex,” says Rodriguez. “I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”
Ward’s exhibit work is an abstract painting that incorporates cartography, inspired by his first degree, in geography.
Ultimately, the students want “When Art Attacks!” attendees “to get a feel for the different art that’s out there,” says Rodriguez.
“A lot of people don’t go to galleries because they’re intimidated or it’s too expensive. But there’s nothing to keep anyone from coming to our exhibit. It’s free, and we’re going to have food.”
“There are amazing artists in the class,” he adds. “People should come and experience their work. There’s something for everybody.”
“And the art won’t really attack you,” Ward jokes. “Well, mine won’t. I can’t guarantee the rest.”
The University Art Gallery and Room Gallery are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.