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Dark Commander

“Dark Commander: The Art of John Scott” opened in the Faulconer Gallery Friday, Oct. 10, with a conversation with the artist and Faulconer Gallery curator Daniel Strong. It runs through Dec. 14, 2014.

This retrospective is the first exhibition in the United States for Scott, who received the prestigious Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Canada's highest arts honor, in 2000.

The exhibition reveals Scott's lifelong fascination with machines as it evolved from his working-class roots in Windsor, Ontario, just across the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit, through an era that has seen both rapid technological innovation and almost continuous high-tech warfare.

For 40 years, Scott has remained consistent and eerily prescient in raw-edged drawings and found-object installations that plot a vector from the optimism of NASA to the voyeurism of the NSA. "If you look at his work from the 1980s and ’90s, much of it could be made next year," Strong says.

Scott’s hard-edged work is influenced by artists as diverse as the Spaniard Francisco Goya (1746-1828) and the German Expressionists of the early 20th century. Goya and German Expressionists are well represented in the Grinnell College Art Collection. One of the icons of Scott's work, the inspiration for the exhibition's title, is the "Dark Commander," an oversized and imperious Napoleonic figure that recurs in his work along side anxiety-driven bunny-men, jet fighters and hybridized motorcycles, one of which has been borrowed from Scott's hometown museum, the Art Gallery of Windsor.

The exhibition coincides with a campus-wide focus on the centenary of World War I, "A Century of War: 1914 and Beyond," sponsored by the College's Center for the Humanities.

“Dark Commander: The Art of John Scott” is open through Dec. 14. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and admission is free.

Outreach to Active Minds

At the Grant O. Gale Observatory and in parks around town, two members of the College community are making sure that children in Grinnell keep their minds working over the summer.

Arts in the Parks

Kids apply dye to their cloth under the adults' watchful eyesYou can’t miss Tilly Woodward’s glitter-covered truck, which appears in parks around Grinnell for her Art in the Parks program. Over the course of six weeks, she makes her rounds so kids from all over Grinnell have access to a high quality art experience.

With activities ranging from painting, drawing, and collage to tie-dyeing and glittering Woodward’s truck, the participants are limited only by their own creativity. Each year, there’s also a group project. “This year, we’re working on a 3-foot tall rendition of the Statue of Liberty in clay,” says Woodward. The top half, which has contributions in clay of more than 200 kids, is ready to be fired in the College’s kiln.

Some sessions are held outside the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts on the College’s campus, and the kids are encouraged to take a break and cool off in the Faulconer Gallery. Those sessions as well as the Drop in and Draw events coming up later this month encourage kids to interact with art and create their own.

Summer Astronomy Program

Students concentrate as Cadmus shows a quick experiment to illustrate a pointFor two decades, physics Professor Bob Cadmus has hosted a summer astronomy program for middle school students. The three sessions have the overarching theme of life — what makes planets suitable for life, the life and death of stars, and the life of the universe.

Cadmus started the program in part to combat the socialization of middle school girls away from science, which he observed in his daughters at the time. “I wanted to create a program where girls who have an interest in science can feel supported,” he says. The program is open to all middle school students, though, and most years there’s a pretty even split between boys and girls.

Sessions consist of a lecture and discussion, an activity outside, and time spent looking through the telescope. When he’s explaining how stars are formed or evidence that the big bang occurred, Cadmus isn’t afraid to discuss complexities, but he focuses on the broader concepts and demonstrates them with everyday examples.

In the summer months that are saturated with athletic and social events, Woodward and Cadmus are happy to offer something different.

 

Exploding the Binary

Tweeting, the Inez Louise Henely 1914 Best in Show-winner at the 2014 Bachelor of Arts Exhibition (BAX), is a series of 14 pieces of handmade paper with watermarks of text from Twitter.

The artist, Delia Salomon ’14, explains what led her to create this work. “When I learned how to make paper in Chemistry of Artistic Materials, I was fascinated by how it was originally a hand-made process.” The juxtaposition between the instantaneous nature of modern social media and the lengthy, laborious process of papermaking struck her.

Although Salomon is a prize-winning artist, her major is based in the Noyce Science Center rather than the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. Her parents’ artistic natures rubbed off on her, but in the academic world she was drawn to science. That’s not to say that she necessarily sees art and science as a binary with a gulf in between. After she came to Grinnell and started studying both more, she realized that “the artistic process and the scientific process are pretty similar, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that.”

“Developing both an artistic and a scientific way of thought has helped me immensely. Even in a science class, my experience with art — making art — reminds me that there are other people out there, which is easy to forget when you’re doing science,” Salomon says.

Grinnell provides a climate that encourages students to stretch, whether that means participating in sports, playing music, or taking a class in an unfamiliar discipline.

Salomon sees art as a practice and a mode of thought that connects her with the rest of the world. “My professors always say ‘art doesn’t exist alone.’” Art helps Salomon appreciate and understand why she pursues science. Both the scientific and artistic perspectives are useful in gaining perspective on the world. “Art and science used to be very closely tied — the study of anatomy, for example,” she says. “Each uses different tools, but both demonstrate a desire to understand the world around us.”

During her semester abroad in Valparaiso, Chile, Salomon found that not all colleges support work in multiple disciplines the same way Grinnell does. An art professor in Chile asked Salomon what her major was, and when she said it was biology, he laughed. Salomon said that she gained a great deal from the experience of studying abroad, but it also gave her an increased appreciation for how supportive Grinnell’s professors are. She is especially grateful to professors Jeremy Chen and Lee Running. Both encouraged her in her artistic pursuits and pushed her when she was hesitant to submit an entry for BAX.

Looking to the future, Salomon plans to serve in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, with a placement in San Francisco. She intends to use her free time to train to swim the English Channel, a feat she first attempted at the age of 16.

BAX is an annual professional exhibition of mature student works in the creative arts, including visual and performing arts. It is held towards the end of each academic year in Faulconer Gallery.   

Tweeting by Delia Salomon '14, Grinnell College's best in show BAX winner 2014

Bachelor of Arts Exhibition

The annual Bachelor of Arts Exhibition (BAX), formerly the Annual Student Art Salon, begins April 11 in Faulconer Gallery. BAX is a professional exhibition of mature student works in the creative arts, including visual and performing arts.

Student Organized

Student organizers include:

  • Remy Ferber ’14,
  • Hannah Safter ’14,
  • Hannah Fiske ’14,
  • Eden Marek ’15, and
  • Becky Garner ’15.

These students distributed guidelines to student artists, selected the juror, worked with the budget for prizes and juror expenses from endowed funds, and called for entries. During the exhibition, they will manage the delivery of works of art, provide a checklist of work for the show to gallery staff, and supervise the design of the announcement card including printing, mailing, and other distribution.

Milton Severe, director of exhibition design at Faulconer Gallery, designs the exhibition. Lesley Wright, the gallery director, coordinates BAX with the students.

Featured Artists

This exhibition will feature works by:

  • Kathlyn Cabrera ’14,
  • Danielle DeSantes ’15,
  • Daniel Ehrlich ’14,
  • William Elsas ’14,
  • Martin Estrada ’14,
  • Hannah Fiske ’14,
  • Becky Garner ’15,
  • Amy Linder ’14,
  • Nathan Kim ’16,
  • Eden Marek ’15,
  • Patricia Murphy-Geiss ’14,
  • Martha Orlet ’15,
  • Na Chainkua Reindorf ’14,
  • Delia Salomon ’14,
  • Gavin Warnock ’14, and
  • Julissa Zamora ’15.

A site-specific installation with sound will be presented by the team of:

  • Brian Buckley ’14,
  • Dylan Fisher ’14,
  • Mike Maiorana ’12,
  • Eden Marek ’15,
  • Leah Meyer ’15, and
  • Patty Murphy-Geiss ’14.

Students performing during the opening will be:

  • Chloe Pachovas ’14,
  • Austin McKenney ’15,
  • Samanea Hunter-Karrfalt ’14,
  • Mekdes Kebede ’14, and
  • Lainie-Ruth Benedict ’15.

Prizes

Benedict Heywood, executive director of The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, will select the yearly prizes in studio art. The Division of Student Affairs and the Student Government Association will award purchase prizes as well.

Schedule of Events

During the BAX, Faulconer Gallery will host the following events:

Thurs., April 10, noon
“Making Art for the Midwest: The Soap Factory, Minneapolis,” a talk by juror Benedict Heywood, executive director of The Soap Factory, Minneapolis in Bucksbaum Room 152.
Fri., April 11, 5 p.m.
Opening reception. Benedict Heywood and others will announce awards, and refreshments will be served.
Sat., April 12, 1:30 p.m.
Community Day. Tour the exhibitions, complete a scavenger hunt, enjoy printmaking, and create sculptures from shoes. All are welcome, and refreshments will be served.
Wed., April 16, 7:30 p.m.
Spring harp recital. Under the direction of Kristin Maahs, applied music associate.
Thurs., April 17, 7:30 p.m.
Fresh flutes concert. Under the direction of Claudia Anderson, applied music associate.
Wed., April 30, 4:15 p.m.
Sharing Complex Conversations,” a talk by curator Patterson Sims, president of the Board of Independent Curators International.

The BAX is open through May 4. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, and admission is free.

Happenstance Theater

Happenstance Theater will perform IMPOSSIBLE! A Happenstance Circus at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, in Roberts Theatre in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

The professional company committed to devising and producing original, performer-created, visual, poetic theater. In the last eight years, the sextet of performers has devised 20 new works.

An homage to circus characters and images from the 1930s and 40s, IMPOSSIBLE! is a theatrical collage set against the backdrop of hard times.

After Saturday’s performance, founding members Sabrina Mandell and Mark Jaster will remain on campus to continue work on their Pinot & Augustine clown duo and offer three workshops related to mime and clown performance.

The Pinot & Augustine workshops will be:

  • A physical comedy class from 4:30-6 p.m. Monday, April 7
  • An open rehearsal from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, April 8
  • An informal performance from 4:30-6 p.m. Wednesday, April 9

Mandell and Jaster will attend and participate in four theatre and dance classes.

The pair will also give a presentation, “Art as Spark: Igniting Devised Theatre Inspired by Visual Art,” in the Faulconer Gallery at noon on Tuesday, April 8.

All Happenstance events are open to the Grinnell students, staff, faculty, and community members, and no experience is necessary to attend the workshops.

This residency was organized by Artists@Grinnell, post-baccalaureate fellow Caleb Neubauer ’13, and Lesley Wright, director of the Faulconer Gallery. Artists @Grinnell is made possible through an Innovation Fund grant.

Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works

On Friday, April 4, Faulconer Gallery will welcome “Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works,” curated by Patterson Sims, an independent art curator, writer, and consultant based in New York. Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery is the exhibition’s fourth of five college and university stops.

There will be a number of events in conjunction with this exhibition, including gallery talks with Willie Cole on April 4 at 4:15 p.m. and members of Happenstance Theater on Tuesday, April 8, at noon.

The realities of inner-city African-American life and his immediate family have laid the groundwork for the sculptures, paintings, drawings, and prints of Willie Cole. Cole, who grew up in post-industrial Newark, sees himself as an “urban archaeologist.” He draws inspiration from traditional African art to create contemporary works in many media.

Cole transforms mass-produced objects into precious icons or symbolic representations to examine race, history, and belief systems. His artwork has engaged in a continuous conversation with national identity and world culture through shifting themes, from the personal to the universal and his African-American Baptist heritage to international, pan-spiritual perspectives.

Faulconer Gallery will host the following public events during “Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works”:

  • Mondays and Thursdays, March 31 – May 15, 12:15 p.m.: Yoga in the gallery for beginners and experienced practitioners. Co-sponsored by Live Well Grinnell. Mats are provided.
  • Fri., April 4, 4:15 p.m.: Gallery talk with artist Willie Cole. Co-sponsored by the Grinnell College Black Alumni Weekend.
  • Fri., April 4, 5 p.m.: Opening reception. Willie Cole will be present, and light refreshments will be served. Co-sponsored by the Grinnell College Black Alumni Weekend.
  • Tues., April 8, noon: Gallery talk with Happenstance Theater. Performers will discuss how they would engage with an exhibition through theatre, using “Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works”.
  • Sat., April 12, 1:30 p.m.: Community Day. Tour the exhibitions, complete a scavenger hunt, enjoy printmaking, and create sculptures from shoes. All are welcome, and refreshments will be served.
  • Wed., April 16, 7:30 p.m.: Spring harp recital under the direction of Kristin Maahs, applied music associate.
  • Thurs., April 17, 7:30 p.m.: Fresh Flutes concert under the direction of Claudia Anderson, applied music associate.
  • Wed., April 30, 4:15 p.m.: “Sharing Complex Conversations.” Gallery talk with curator Patterson Sims, president of the Board of Independent Curators.

“Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works” is open through June 1. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, and admission is free. The gallery will be closed for Memorial Day.

Faulconer Gallery is located in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts at 1108 Park St. For more information about the exhibitions and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit www.grinnell.edu/faulconergallery. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar[at]grinnell[dot]edu.

Scott Hocking Launches Artists@Grinnell

 

As the first artist-in-residence brought in by the new Artists@Grinnell program this spring, you might wonder if Scott Hocking has worried about his responsibility to lead by example, or at least that he would make the ten-day stay worthwhile — maybe, that is, until you see his work.

The Detroit-native has in fact already faced many unpredictable and harsh scenarios as an international artist, mostly voluntarily. A photographer and sculptor, much of Hocking’s work is based in abandoned, deteriorating buildings in shrinking urban sprawls, where he takes materials from their respective sites and builds installations. After and during documentation — sometimes for years following — he leaves the sculptures to surprise the scrappers, “ruin porn” explorers, and EPA cleanup crews, and keep his artwork outside of the gallery to balance out the many exhibitions he’s had for his photographs and other installations.

“What is the different between a ruin and a monument?” Hocking asked at his Writers@Grinnell book talk in Faulconer Gallery, where his pop-up exhibition of eleven prints are currently hung. He finds that distinction a universally important one for people, which his efforts clearly illuminate.

Much of Hocking’s time here so far, however, has been spent as a mentor to the Art, Music, and English Interdisciplinary seminar with professors Lee Emma Running, John Rommereim, and Dean Bakopoulos.

The forty-plus students from each background have been working all week on collaborative installations strewn about the Grinnell College campus. The installations, some of which rely on performances or lighting, will be viewable during a walking tour Monday, March 10, 2014. The tour begins at 7:30 p.m. at Main Quad, 1221 6th Ave, and moves north through the fine arts, science, and other buildings, ending at 10 p.m.

Hocking’s approach to spaces and materials is nothing short of stimulating to the class and their work.

Indeed: ask any student who’s encountered Hocking, and you’ll know how worthwhile his residency has been.

Artist to speak about his work on Tuesday

New York artist Greg Smith returns to Grinnell for a gallery talk on Tuesday, February 25 at 4:15. Smith’s two video installations are currently on view in Faulconer Gallery (through March 16). Both videos, Loop and Breakdown Lane, concern the artist as an ‘artifice mechanic,’ working with a car to change the driving, and breakdown, experiences. Smith developed the exhibition in January out of the materials used to make the videos. His videos and his installations challenge how we think of time spent behind the wheel and the work of creating art in any context.

Smith will be joined by Susan Inglett, long-time gallery owner in New York City from whom the Faulconer Gallery staff members have purchased a number of works of art. Smith and Inglett will meet with classes and with individual students while they are here, giving students access to professionals in the art world as they chart their own careers. Smith’s history is particularly instructive, since he has a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University, but changed direction to art while in grad school. Life, like the experiences depicted in his art, rarely goes as planned! Stop by to hear his talk and ask your questions.

Decay: The Ephemeral Body in Art

This exhibition includes eight oversize works by three artists that consider the human body in varying states of decay. From instances of death and sickness to the body as metaphor, these works directly or indirectly ask us to examine our relationship to the unavoidable ephemeral state in which we reside. 

Curated by Hannah Fiske '14, Faulconer Gallery intern