As the blog demonstrates, we have been quite busy in the gallery installing various shows, creating new educational resources, organizing gallery talks by various artists and guest curators, designing upcoming shows, growing and diversifying our collection, making our collection more available to both online and offline (in-person… the old-fashioned way) viewers, and much, much more. Now that the semester has closed, it is as good a time as any to take a second and reflect upon the semester that was Fall 2014.
The semester began with the installation and exhibition of two shows, Process It All: Selected Works by Chip Lord in the front gallery and Carving out Freedom, Piecing a Community in the back gallery. As the title suggests, the exhibition Process It All: Selected Works by Chip Lord featured video art by one of the pioneers of video arts, Chip Lord. Curated by our own Taras Matla, the exhibition extended a new trend within the Gallery to examine and explore the importance and influence of time-based works of art by the ground-breaking artists of the medium.
With the incredible technology of today and the plethora of videos on the web, it might be easy for a viewer to dismiss early video art as dated. However, as pieces such as Three Drugs or AUTO FIRE LIFE demonstrate, Lord’s work still addresses major themes from television, film, and commercials that cater to and/or plague contemporaneous viewers. Lord’s work questions and deconstructs not only how we perceive the visual ephemera of television, movies, and the like, but how those same elements more permanently shape how we view and understand the world around us.
The installation in the back gallery, Carving out Freedom, Piecing a Community, featured both individual and collaborative works by students from the Corcoran, the University of Maryland, and members of Washington D.C.’s THEARC community. Those involved initially drew inspiration from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, but in their pursuit of freedom, they came upon the poem “Human Nature” by the world-renowned writer and poet Maya Angelou. Ending on the lines “We are more alike, my friends,/than we are unalike”, the poem motivated those involved to pursue the idea of community, both large and small, as a source of freedom. The works in the exhibition included brilliantly illustrated and original artist books, small prints, and two large collaborative prints as well as documentary photography and film, tools used by the artists, and personal thoughts and reflections on both the process and this subject matter from the various members of this unique artistic community.
Though it was hard to top two such thought-provoking exhibitions, Double Back: Photographic Reflexivity opened in late October and brought with it new perspectives into the space of the gallery. Curated by Nate Larson from the Maryland Institute College of Art, the show examined artists who explore the medium and process of photography as a subject of their artworks. Featuring work by David Emitt Adams, William Lamson, Aspen Mays and Barbara Probst, the objects within the exhibition made the viewer keenly aware of the multi-step process behind the final image, from the initial point-and-shoot to the chemistry behind development. This inherent self-awareness of the artwork created a space of artistic reflection within the gallery. In the case of these works, the ends definitely justified the means.
Spring 2015 will be just as busy and exciting at The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland. Keep an eye out for following upcoming shows: Reshuffling the Past: 2015 Contemporary Chinese Ink Art, an exhibition of work from the Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) in Washington, D.C., and the 2015 MFA (Master of Fine Arts) Thesis Exhibition. See you on campus this (late winter and) spring!
Ph.D. Student, Department of Art History and Archaeology, The University of Maryland, College Park