The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Smith Gallery opens for “Members Only”

parker van nostrand Works inspired by Costco on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Parker Van Nostrand
Works inspired by Costco on display in Smith Gallery. Photo by Parker Van Nostrand

The closest Costco Wholesale warehouse club to Grinnell is about 62 miles away. But 10 artists have brought samples of Costco to the College in the newest installation housed in Smith Gallery entitled “Members Only.”

As part of the class taught by Professor Andrew Kaufman, Art, on contemporary practices, students have explored and discussed the practice of sampling throughout the semester. According to the artists’ statement on display in the gallery, the exhibition “is a collection of ways that we sampled from Costco. As one of the powerhouses of bulk-sized consumption, Costco provided a wide and multifaceted net from which we were able to sample. Our creative research explores different, or individualized concerns related to the aesthetics, economics and ethics of this big box retailer.”

Before coming up with the idea of sampling Costco items, the artists only knew the opening date of their exhibition, Monday, Nov. 10. It wasn’t until the middle of October that the class expressed interest in sampling from a large corporation. Several artists used their unique areas of expertise to take their turns at tackling the theme of sampling from Costco.

“Some people made it a political critique, some people referenced it through a snapshot image, some people were abstract and others very literal,” said Amy Flores ’15, one of the students in the class whose work is featured in Smith Gallery.

Although not all of the 10 artists visited Costco in preparation for the exhibit, they did all possess prior knowledge of the retailer. Martin Estrada ’15, another of the artists who contributed to the show, said that he didn’t go to the store specifically for the exhibit.

“I went to Costco for the first time not too long ago,” Estrada said. “So, for my images, I took images from Google and added graphic animations to all of the images. All five pieces create ‘Bulk Sized Problem,’ which essentially means that Costco is having issues attracting the youth, and are only really attracting the older generation, so I wanted to comment on that specific issue.”

Flores confessed that she spent several days on a piece she planned to place in the show but eventually created another piece after going to Costco.

“A lot of the work I do revolves around what it means trying to be Latina,” Flores said. “I was taking a whole bunch of pictures and there was a woman who was aware I was taking a picture of her. She wasn’t menacing but she was definitely aware I was taking a picture of her. I couldn’t get that image stuck out of my head.”

Flores says she wants gallery visitors to appreciate the detail that is put into each piece of work.

“For me, a flower could be so complex and have a lot of meaning. For someone who is detached from those meanings, I would at least want them to appreciate the detail and understand that art is a very rigorous process even if it looks simple, even if it’s on video, on the computer or on a canvas,” Flores said.

Although the Smith Gallery has typically been home to solo exhibitions, “Members Only” distinguishes itself by combining the classical and contemporary practices of different artists seamlessly in a single show.

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 *