Focus on failure as a feat of life

Marley Parish, Features editor

Doane Hall of Art filled with artists eager to begin their 8 hour art projects on Saturday, Sept. 3. The artists’ work focuses on the theme of failure in this year’s show.

Heather Brand, visiting assistant professor of art, and Darren Lee Miller, associate professor of photography and digital imaging director, curated the art show. The public was invited to observe and work with the artists in this year’s show where the artists traveled from all over to participate.

“[This year], the artists are surprisingly from all over,” said Brand. “We usually have semi-regional artists. They’re from Buffalo, Illinois, New York. It’s a wide variety, and I’m really happy with what happened.”

As the 12 artists created their work, students were free to walk around, spectate, ask questions and even help the artists create their pieces during the short period of time.

“It changes the dynamic,” said Brand. “It also changes the project. With my project, if I didn’t have people helping me, it would have been a lot worse. It would have been a much more labor-intensive day. I was able to have great conversations with people about the theme, and they quite literally helped it take shape. It’s a good way to kick off the school year to get the creativity flowing.”

“This year being the Year of Mindfulness, we thought that failure was a great way to tie into that,” said Brand. “We really asked the artists to make work that talked about failure how they saw it or how failure could influence their practice in some way.”

Hannah Epstein, a participating artist, created analog pixel art of a conversation with a close friend through rug hooking, an artform that originated in Nova Scotia.

“I fail constantly,” Epstein said. “It’s kind of like the thing I want to get better at. Failure is an integral part of existing.”

Trevor King, contributing artist, created a project by enlarging pieces of slag.

“I definitely have experience with failure. Everybody does,” King said. “If there wasn’t failure, the art would feel formulaic.”

Steve Prince, professor of art and Allegheny College’s artist-in-residence, focused his work on Serena Williams, an American professional tennis player. His inspiration comes from Williams’ life, how she is viewed as a brute force and does not fit into American ideals of women.

“I can understand and identify with those struggles,” Prince said.

Failure was not seen as a negative aspect of the show. Instead, artists focused on how to improve and learn from mistakes.

“[Failure] is motivation and a fear,” said Brand. “What helps is knowing that it’s okay to be vulnerable. When you fail at something, you feel very vulnerable. If you can pick yourself up and try again, it’s not really a failure. It’s just sort of a refining of what you want and where you’re going. I think it’s important to talk about failure in the arts because [mistakes] they don’t really exist.”

The artists’ work will be on display until Sept. 18, 2016 in Doane Hall of Art.