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Destruction uncovers spirituality

Jonathan Reed, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, walks with Kathleen Weaver, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, through the Harris Art Gallery exhibition, “Out of Rubble” curated by Susanne Slavick. The photograph of the remains of the Halat-Fidar Bridge, north of Beirut, Lebanon, was made by Simon Norfolk in 2006. / photo by Sarah Golden

Jonathan Reed, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, walks with Kathleen Weaver, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, through the Harris Art Gallery exhibition, “Out of Rubble” curated by Susanne Slavick. The photograph of the remains of the Halat-Fidar Bridge, north of Beirut, Lebanon, was made by Simon Norfolk in 2006. / photo by Sarah Golden

Karla Rendon
Assistant Editor

The Harris Art Gallery’s latest exhibit, “Out of Rubble,” is displaying art of different mediums that may stun the audience with its visuals of war aftermath.

Gallery director Dion Johnson teamed up with curator Susanne Slavick and 18 artists and architects from around the world to present these works of creativity.

“It was a way to have an exhibition with some very talented international artists on a very focused theme of how artists deal with the aftermath of war and how from destruction comes creation,” Johnson said.

“I think the work deals with geography (and) sociology. It deals with healing and human spirituality and how all of that ties together in the creative act,” he said.

“Out of Rubble” was originally a book written by Slavick and Holly Edwards published in 2011 featuring several artistic mediums that showcased how the artists view after-effects of war.

“It started with my own work as an artist in 2006,” Slavick said.

She explained how her work is always responding to social and political happenings and how the war with Lebanon and Iraq sparked her inspiration to create a political masterpiece.

“I’m hoping that the whole body of work will make people question why we keep doing this to each other,” Slavick said.

“Art motivates and stimulates us to act on what we know and feel, so I’m hoping the exhibit will make us know and feel and work on this chronic violence,” she said.

Presented in the gallery is a 96-inch by 120-inch collage covering nearly the entire north wall of Harris Gallery.

The college, made by artist Enrique Castrejon, is made of different pieces of paper held together by tape and 700 pushpins.

Titled “Wasteland: Najaf,” Johnson has cited Castrejon’s contribution to the exhibit as his favorite.

“It’s one that I think everyone can relate to,” Johnson said.

“I think everyone has looked at a map before, and I think everyone has doodled in this simple lined way that the artist has, and because it is literally pierced 700 times, I think it’s a wonderful way to convey how the city of Najaf in Iraq has been damaged,” he said.

What inspired the giant collage was a photograph by Thorne Anderson in TIME Magazine that Castrejon found captivating.

The photo shows a person walking through a deserted road in a neighborhood in Najaf, Iraq filled only with debris of the buildings surrounding them.

The person is walking alone, and their body language implies that they are awe-struck and in disbelief by their environment.

Upon seeing the photo, it took him about eight months to finish his travelling project.

“What really got me was that here is someone who is in a neighborhood that’s known to them and that neighborhood is bombarded,” Castrejon said.

“For me, seeing that hit this feeling of chaos, and I was intrigued by the destroyed architecture. The actual street was going through a schizophrenic mode of construction and destruction,” he said.

“I hope, if anything, the piece will make the audience question what they see,” Castrejon said.

“How is this image connected to our time and location? What is happening somewhere else? Of course we have our situations here, and those moments are really telling of how we respond and how we move forward. For me, the art I create is investigation,” he said.

Harris Gallery will be hosting a lecture by Slavick from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

A reception will follow the lecture, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m on Oct. 22 in the gallery.

“Out of Rubble” is currently on display at the Gallery and will run through Nov. 22.

The Harris Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. till 4 p.m., or by appointment.

Karla Rendon can be reached at karla.rendon@laverne.edu.

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