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The Scarlet & Black

Water exhibit opens in Burling basement

Peter Aldrich poses in front of his exhibit. Photo by Leina’ala Voss
Peter Aldrich poses in front of his exhibit. Photo by Leina'ala Voss
Peter Aldrich poses in front of his exhibit. Photo by Leina’ala Voss

In the Print Study Room of Burling Library hang several pieces of artwork that represent water, both literally and figuratively. Together, the artworks tell stories of our interactions with water and the boundaries they create. Peter Aldrich ’15, this semester’s intern for the Faulconer Gallery, curated the show, “Crossing the Water” as part of his internship.

“I’ve never done curatorial work before, so this was a new experience for me,” Aldrich said.

Aldrich said he recognized that Faulconer Gallery Director Lesley Wright took a chance in hiring him as an intern because of his history background. Wright was curious to see how he would curate an exhibit.

“It’s been interesting for Peter, I think, because he is not an art major, to be asked to curate a show,” Wright said during her introductory remarks at the opening reception.

Aldrich credited the inspiration for the show to two moments in his life. The first was when he saw the exhibit, “Edward Burtysnky: Water” at the Faulconer Gallery earlier this semester. His aesthetic attraction towards each photograph in the exhibit helped steer him towards the direction of his curated exhibit. The exhibition at the Faulconer Gallery made him think back to a second piece of inspiration, his trip to Asia earlier this year as part of a Mentored Advanced Project.

“I traveled to Taipei in May and the flight from Detroit to Tokyo was 13 hours,” Aldrich said. “You cross an awful lot of water. I soon started to think how I interacted with water. But I recognized in thinking about that trip that I did more than just cross water. I crossed cultural boundaries, I encountered art with which I was uncomfortable and unfamiliar.”

After the first month in Asia, he then traveled to London, where he, again, crossed water and other borders.

“This repeated crossing was instrumental to how I curated this exhibition,” Aldrich said. “Because this exhibition is not just about water and borders, but also the bounds of our ability to understand art that we don’t understand and to wrap our heads around things that visually don’t make sense to us.”

Aldrich said that one of the goals of the exhibition was to facilitate an encounter with those boundaries of interpretive capacity. He also said that he hoped to increase awareness of Grinnell’s extensive art collection.

“Many people don’t know that we have a collection of thousands of artworks, so one of my goals was to make sure people saw at least some of those in the collection.”

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