Art Students Take Over GT Building

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Photo Credit: Laura Fox and Byron Howard

This month, UVU art students invaded the GT building with a first-of-its kind campus exhibit centered on installations and performance art.

The art focused on challenging the boundaries and definition of contemporary art. The idea for this student-produced art exhibit began last fall.

“I really liked the idea of students actually creating a conceptual work of art, rather than simply researching and writing about other artists’ conceptual creations,” said Courtney Davis, assistant professor of Art History and professor of the students involved in this on-campus exhibit.

One art student, Larry Revoir, chose displaying a single ceramic jar tucked away in one of the hallways of the GT building as his project.

As students walked past the artwork Revoir would explain to them that they were now visiting UVU’s art gallery.  Revoir’s display of the lone ceramic jar was a bit of a facetious way of pointing out that UVU’s art school is sorely lacking a functional art gallery.

“This is what I’m calling our art gallery, there is no art gallery on campus,” said Revoir.

At one point UVU did have a dedicated and functioning art gallery in room 401 of the GT building, however due to space constraints the Music Department was allocated the room for their equipment needs.

“Space is very much at a premium here at UVU, and the visual arts is in dire need of exhibition space,” said Davis.  “We have very few places to showcase our students’ outstanding work, aside from hallway bulletin boards with the AVC Department, or the occasional nook here and there.

“The appreciation of artwork is definitely a two-part process of creation and viewership.  We would love for more people from the campus community and beyond to be able to enjoy the works of art being produced in the AVC Department on a daily basis.”

Revoir’s method of using his artwork as a way to interact with students and convey a message in a unique way is an example of some of the strengths behind performance and installation artworks.

“These types of artworks incorporate real time and space, blurring the boundary between art and life, and sometimes involving the viewer as a participant,” said Davis.

Students Spencer Devine and Judy Day presented an art booth challenging what is identified as beauty.  They featured information on the addictive grab of cosmetic surgery and its destructive effects, and how society has created a culture where people seek to downplay the strengths of our body.

“We have a culture where we are supposed to be modest,” said Day. “For some reason when we start talking about things like having a great smile we are labeled arrogant.”

Another part of Day and Devine’s booth on beauty featured Devine drawing portraits of participating students according to how those students viewed themselves.

Devine would then draw portraits of those same students using descriptions of them from other people.  The results of the portrait drawings gave an interactive example of how people are generally more critical of their own looks compared to how others view them.

Inviting participation from students was a big focus of the art displayed at this exhibit.

Drawing inspiration from an installation artwork crafted by Yoko Ono, called the “Wish Tree,” Rachel McCappin set up a version of that artwork on our campus.  Using a tree outside the GT building, McCappin had students write down their wishes on paper and then decorated the tree by hanging those wishes on it.

“This is a piece that is featured at the Utah Museum of Contemporary art,” said McCappin.  “For me this piece is about questioning who the artist of this is.  Is it Yoko Ono or is it the people who put their wishes on the tree?”

Holding other exhibits like this on campus again is something Davis is interested in doing.

“I am already thinking about the next project,” said Davis.  “While we are all aware of traditional forms of art, we are sometimes unaware of the great innovations and experimentations of contemporary artists, which are often multi-media and highly conceptual.”