The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Art seminar dares viewers to [ref-yoos] or [ri-fyooz]

Great art often requires great sacrifice, but only rarely does that sacrifice actually require the disposal of a piece of art.  Refuse: [ref-yoos] [ri-fyooz], the Smith Gallery’s latest exhibition, asks students to vote on the artwork that they would most like to remove from the show.  Appropriately, the ballot box is a trashcan.

Voters will be left with a tough decision. The eclectic collection includes dozens of outstanding works, stretching from the floor to the ceiling in the fashion of the famous French Salon in Paris.

“There’s never been a salon show in Smith Gallery, at least not in my time,” said Professor Andrew Kaufman, who teaches the student artists in seminar. “They’re very interested in seeing if this works. They’re challenging convention by letting the work completely take over the space.”

“It’s hard coming in with everyone having different pieces of work and having no idea where to begin.  We didn’t initially know it would be salon style. It just evolved that way,” Phoebe Currier ’12 said.

Although the students stress that there is no unifying theme to the pieces, Refuse still flows well, partially because the artists avoided framing their drawings, paintings and photographs, in typical salon style.

“We left a little space between each work, so that the white space on the wall becomes the frame for the pieces,” Vadim Fainberg ’13 said.

Not all of the pieces can be framed, anyways. Besides paintings, drawings and photographs, Refuse also includes graphic art, large quilts, enchanting embroidery and intriguing digital pieces, such as videos and illuminated works of art. The paintings range from portraiture to grotesque caricature.

“There’s a shift from the normal mode of curating working to an accumulation so that it deemphasizes any one piece,” Kaufman said. “This show is about a collection, a visual onslaught for the viewer that hasn’t been done yet.”

However, the implementation of the artists’ full vision is impaired by a simple, but unavoidable problem.

“There is no way to do the lightening properly,” Fainberg said.

Some of the more intricate pieces, such as a work of white vellum embroidery, struggle to stand out in the limited light, which hides their craftsmanship and detail. The inclusion of digital and illuminated works also slightly detracts from more traditional paintings and drawings because of the close proximity.

Overall, the artists did a fine job of exhibiting in difficult conditions. The show displays a breadth of talent that appears stunning in such a small, cramped space.  Really, no piece in Refuse deserves to be voted into a metaphorical or literal trash can.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (1)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

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