The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Smith gallery floats away

Orlonski’s sculptures on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Aaron Juarez


Orlonski’s sculptures on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Aaron Juarez
Orlonski’s sculptures on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Aaron Juarez

The Smith Gallery is currently hosting “What Goes Up…,” a multimedia exhibit by Andrew Orloski, a newly-hired Studio Art technician at Grinnell. The exhibit features balloons, some inflated, some made of plaster and metal, strewn throughout the space. A plaster hand holds a bunch of balloons encased in a plastic cover. In a corner, a television screen displays colorful balloons blowing in the wind against a bright cerulean sky, and a fan sits beside a cluster of deflated latex spheres. 

“I’ve made a big departure from my video and performance work here. It’s more object-based,” Orloski said of the exhibit.

The work is unusual for a number of reasons, one being that its construction occurred mostly within the gallery itself. 

“Since the work was made there, the gallery obviously informed the work because the gallery is a space I’m working in. I fabricated pretty much all of the pieces in the space itself. Technically, they are latex balloons filled with plaster,” Orloski said. “… one of the balloons is actually in bronze with the wood stuck in it. That piece itself took me about seven months to make; that one is definitely technically advanced. I made it specifically to be patinated black and polished so it has the sheen of latex. It’s the artist tricking the viewer.” 

Orloski, who previously worked as a sculpture technician at Wellesley College, studied philosophy and sculpture as an undergraduate at Millersville University before completing post-baccalaureate work at Virginia Commonwealth University. He cites existential philosophy as the major link between his undergraduate and current work. 

“Before I went to VCU, I was dealing with a lot of really heady philosophical issues. When I got there, I was told, ‘Stop thinking so much and just create.’ I fell in love with the mundane rather than the existential. One of my past videos is just me banging my head against a wall,” Orloski said. “I was really interested in how my philosophy informed these mundane actions so I was looping videos of one one-to-two second bit. There was a piece where I was running and I cropped a video down to my one breath and just looped it. The whole idea is that one breath that you did have is now living on forever. It’s an idea that I’m still trying to work with.” 

In “What Goes Up…,” Orloski stresses a desire for the viewer to create his or her own experience. Unlike most other exhibitions, this show does not include a statement of intent from the artist. 

“I’m at this point in creating where my view really doesn’t matter. I think any artist will tell you that. Intersections of time, place, being, experience and existence interest me. These are all huge ideas. I’m thinking about this work as an installation and a sensory experience. I don’t want to force-feed the viewer some really heady ideas,” Orloski said. 

The work itself has changed since its opening on Monday, Aug. 25. Orloski visits the exhibit every two days, bringing new helium balloons, and in some cases, intentionally destroying aspects of the exhibit. 

“I’m interested in something that is alive but eventually dies. Even one of the fans in there broke and I don’t care. The work is ever-evolving and changing. As an artist, I am performing work on the piece, but the work itself takes its own turn of events. Things like that interest me. The ideal situation would be that a viewer is in the exhibit on the first day and every day visits the pieces,” he said. 

Orloski predicts that in the future he will return to the film medium, perhaps focusing on another of his passions, exploring the “one moment in time concept.” As for now, he is excited to get acquainted with Grinnell. 

“There are so many awesome resources here. I have so many new toys,” he said of the tools available in the art department. 

Today is the last day of the exhibition.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *