Every four years, professors from the art department step away from studios, critiques and syllabi and into the spotlight at an exhibition in the Chazen Museum of Art. The first faculty show to be exhibited in the new expansion is Compendium 2012: Art Department Faculty Exhibition. Opening with a preview reception Friday night, Compendium 2012 showcases the work of 34 current faculty and staff artists and 12 emeritus professors, spanning the temporary exhibition galleries in both the Chazen and Elvehjem buildings.
Compendium 2012 is much like a family photo album of the art department faculty, with each artist’s work a snapshot of his or her current artistic endeavors, use of medium and presentation of ideas. Wandering around the galleries is like flipping through the pages of that album and finding a wonderfully diverse range of art: from awe-inspiring, including giant sculptures by Steve Feren of a gorilla, moose and gopher, each embedded in glass; to haunting, like Douglas Rosenberg’s video installation “Meditation (Mother),” wherein a large television screen plays shots of an aged woman with closed eyes and breathing tubes, to the seemingly interactive.
Many of the pieces in the Rowland Gallery seem to invite a sense of audience interaction, like a reworked metal ladder, a tattoo studio in a box, and especially a large statue called “an incomplete articulation” by Paul Sacaridiz that seems so much like a Rube Goldberg machine it wants for one small touch to send it into motion. These works pull the viewer into the same space as the art, encouraging non-conventional interaction with concepts and interpretations beyond the traditional “please stand centered and three feet from framed two-dimensional artwork.”
Two very eagerly anticipated works featured in the faculty show are titled “Ossuary” and “Signs (and the Role of the Reader).” “Ossuary” is a collection of bones resulting from the collaborative work of hundreds of artists, overseen by Laurie Beth Clark. Clark’s work will be shown in the Garfield Gallery. A hanging installation “Signs (and the Role of the Reader)” in the Rowland Gallery features the work of assistant professor Meg Mitchell. The piece is the physical recreation of an essay on semiotics by Umberto Eco. Both are must-sees of the show that defy articulation.
If there is a little time for extracurricular gallery wandering, there are two galleries dedicated to the faculty show just a few fights of stairs up from the art history lecture halls in the Elvejhem building. The works of Tom Loeser, art department chair and professor of woodworking and furniture, are displayed in Paige Court. Loeser’s creations include model-size wooden chairs and full-sized bench and stools, which Loeser encourages visitors to interact with. “I like the fact people are going to use the art,” Loeser said. “In some ways, I think the fact that it’s a functional object makes people more comfortable with the objects and the art. Everybody knows what a chair is and are more comfortable having opinions in relation to what they know. I think it’s harder for some people to stand in front of a painting and get a grasp on it or talk about it.”
When asked why the show was titled Compendium 2012, Loeser supplied a very fitting definition of the word: “a brief treatment or account of a subject, especially an extensive subject; a summary, epitome, or snapshot of what is going on in the program at the moment.”
Compendium 2012 will run from Feb. 4 to April 1, with gallery talks given by the faculty throughout the length of the exhibition. A full catalogue of the exhibition will be available for purchase in the museum gift shop to commemorate the show’s three month run.