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Inspiration for “Play” and “Earth” Exhibits

The exhibits for March and April, “Play” and “Earth,” call for specific kinds of artwork you may not have considered before. To help you find inspiration for the pieces you’ll create, here are some examples of art and artists that fit the bill.

“Play,” the March show, calls for “works that can be touched or interacted with to encourage visitors to become involved in artwork on an entirely new level. Work can also include the subject of children at play, games and activities associated with fun and amusement.” Interactive art can be touched, moved, added to, or otherwise involves the viewer in a new way.

"The Calm Before the Wave," by John Stanmeyer. Courtesy nationalgeographic.com

Interactive artist Daniel Rozin has created several mirrors, including a mirror made of wooden pieces which shift individually to recreate the face of the viewer in front of them. Interactive art doesn’t require video cameras and computers, though. This oil painting, Seasons, is made up of nine panels which the viewer can turn to reveal a new portion of the painting. According to artist Eric Nye, there are over 19,000 possible combinations. Jesus Rafael Soto created a number of walk-through sculptures titled Penetrable, hanging hundreds of bright plastic tubes which invited a number of responses including walking through them, dancing with them, and swinging on them like ropes. This blog post covers a number of examples of interactive art with some thoughtful discussion of its future.

“Earth,” coming in April, is all about the environment and how we live in it. Artwork should use natural, found or recycled materials, or otherwise be linked thematically to the planet, the environment, or humanity’s relationship to the environment. For inspiration, look at the 2008 show “Interplay: Humanity & Nature” on flickr. Art League members Noah Williams and Guy and Marco Rando use found objects in their sculpture; their work can also be found on our flickr page. Likewise, Jeanne Garant’s 2006 solo show in the gallery featured her small works assembled from discarded objects she found on streets around the Torpedo Factory. She challenged herself to create a work daily, using whatever she found, and the result was a stunning exhibit. How will you challenge yourself?

Artists in all media have been successful in creating environmental art. Photographer Chris Jordan is one of many drawn to images of consumption, such as in his images Recycling Yard #6 and Sawdust, which depicts a mountain of sawdust. Jordan writes that he found the subject “desolate, macabre, oddly comical and ironic, and even darkly beautiful.” A National Geographic photo gallery addresses human responses to natural disaster. Other artists have recycled materials including car tires, carved into patterns by Wim Delvoye, trash, turned into a sort of self-portrait by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, and debris from Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, made into art by the Haitian artists group Atis Rezistans, “the sculptors of Grand Rue.”

This spring’s exhibits are great opportunities to try something new, and they should produce very interesting shows. Good luck!

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