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“Deconstruct / Reconstruct”: an exhibit built on variety

By STEPHANIE GALL, ’14
Contributing Writer
The Wellesley News
December 2010

From illustrations of larger-than-life supermarkets to three-dimensional renderings of various intelligences, the exhibit “Deconstruct / Reconstruct” will feature a diverse collection of artwork by the students of ARTS 314, “Advanced Drawing”.  The exhibit, which is a culmination of the course taught by Visiting Lecturer Clara Lieu, will run in the Jewett Art Gallery from Dec. 15 through Jan. 20.  Its title stems from the research involved in making each piece of art. During the brainstorming process, each student chose a subject to closely examine and reinvent in a creative way.

Deconstruct/Reconstruct

ARTS 314 is an advanced level drawing course that allows each student to express her ideas and discover her own unique style.  “I think what’s exciting about an advanced level course is that you have the opportunity to allow students to create their own individual vision,” Lieu explained. “The projects are constructed so that they have a starting point to spark some kind of idea, but frequently where they start and where they end is pretty far apart.”  Over the course of the semester, the students completed three projects; each has selected two of these to display in the exhibit.

For the first assignment, “Tunnel Hallway,” each student made a three-dimensional foam core structure as a visual reference before putting pencil to paper. Yoo Jin Chung ’11 constructed a model of shelves with junk food and candy pouring off of them.  “Living with this in the studio for a few weeks was overpowering with smell,” Lieu laughed.  In translating the model to a drawing, Chung created an image of a “Costco gone wrong” with enormous cookies, licorice hanging off the shelves, and a small shopper pushing a giant cupcake. In contrast, Serena Eastman, ’12, took a more scientific approach. She chose to examine phrenology and used nine Styrofoam heads as her models.  Phrenology, a pseudo-science popular in the 1800’s, attributed certain bumps and grooves on a person’s head to specific intelligences.  In describing how she came up with the idea, she said that she just “started doodling around, trying to come up with representations of the mind and [she] started thinking about localization of function in the brain.”  In total, there are nine types of distinct categories, such as mathematical, linguistic and naturalistic intelligence.  Using one model for each genre, Eastman composed her drawings directly upon the heads.

Deconstruct/Reconstruct

The second assigned project involved themes of memory, time, disintegration and transparency.  This project was “a little more open-ended,” Lieu said.  “They could interpret any of these words however they saw fit.”  One student created a series of portraits with the center part of the faces blurred out to demonstrate how a person with macular degeneration, an eye disorder resulting in the loss of central vision, views the world.  Another student, Laura Weyl ’11, found the idea of impermanency in mirrors intriguing.  For her project, she applied drawings directly upon the mirror and used lenses and fragments of mirrors to accompany other drawings and photographs.

The idea for the class’s third project came from a sign Lieu saw in a doctor’s office one day.  Upon the sign were six faces, progressing from smiling to frowning, that were supposed to be used to describe how much pain a person is in.  “The students were asked to reinterpret this,” Lieu said, “to create some kind of image that depicts six different levels of pain in any way.”  This project also inspired widely varying approaches and projects, ranging from portraits of runners in various stages of exhaustion to eggs being attacked by clamps and eventually bursting.

Over the course of the semester, many students returned to themes they had previously examined, adding fresh perspectives and ideas.  For instance, Eastman depicted six different phobias to exemplify pain, which correlated with the neurological aspect of her earlier phrenology illustrations.  Just as subjects can be expanded upon and reinterpreted, the art of drawing itself can evolve.  “Every project we do in this class expands my definition of drawing,” Eastman said.  ‘I initially thought of it as drawing with a pencil on paper, but there are so many mediums and you can even draw on something three-dimensional.”

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