Artists to exhibit creative process

Artist Michael Garrett created a portrait of model Doug Lodge. Photo courtesy of Darren Miller.

Twelve feet by twelve feet.
Eight hours.
Twelve artists.
The artists in this Saturday’s “8-hour Projects” will not waste an inch when they showcase their artwork for an audience they hope to engage.
Sponsored by Allegheny’s art department, this Saturday’s Work-in-progress Day will feature 12 artists as they construct their pieces in the Bowman, Penelec and Megahan galleries in Doane Hall.
Visitors will not only be invited to watch, but, at times, interact with the artwork.
The event will mark the beginning of this year’s event, 8-Hour Projects: Sustaining Practice, Community and Self.
Darren Miller, assistant professor of art and curator of the show for the past three years,  explained the meaning behind this year’s title in the introduction to the event catalogue.
“Contained within the title of this show is the suggestion that artists not only create artworks, but that our studio practice and subsequent exhibitions are the ways in which we form community with one another and keep ourselves going,” said Miller.
This year, Miller will not only oversee the event, but will work on a piece with one of the artists.

He and Allegheny alumna Colleen Toledano will construct a piece that will be drawn with pins as they plan to complete contour line drawings on the wall.
Toledano, ’01 and Alex Mead, ’01, are the only alumni featured in the show.
The artists are not the only ones who will be put to work. Visitors will be encouraged not to have a passive role in the studio, but to interact with the artists and their projects.
One of the featured artists, Michelle Illuminato, whose work has been recognized both nationally and internationally, explained how a gallery, in her mind, is more than just pictures on the wall.
“I’m interested in the gallery as a place for interaction, something that makes the audience feel they can jump in and participate,” she said.
Her project, entitled “Book Report,” is intended to encourage such interactivity. The piece, she said, will show how much reading is a part of people’s lives. After asking people to show her what they’ve been reading, Illuminato collected items such as cereal boxes and signs people have noticed on their way to work. At this Saturday’s show, she will dedicate one wall to displaying her collected books on shelves. On the other wall, she post readings which visitors will have the opportunity to remove and read. The artist also plans to showcase looking for a number of special readers who will read texts aloud that are important to them.
Joe Meiser, assistant professor at Bucknell University, is another featured artist will encourage participation in his art. His piece in this Saturday’s show, “Become the Gorilla,” will allow guests to watch clips of a gorilla as it performs its normal routine, then step into a gorilla suit and try to recreate the animals’ actions.
Meiser, whose artwork often emphasizes the limits of the human body and mind, created this piece to show how difficult it is to comprehend the lives of animals.
“It’s impossible to put ourselves in the position of an animal; their minds are so different,” he said. “The piece is about trying to understand a gorilla’s experience in the world.”
Professor Miller is hoping for such interactivity. He hopes the projects will promote active learning and exploration of the visual arts and culture.
“We must remain open to the ways in which our works will communicate back to us as our ideas evolve,” he said. “In other words, this show is meant to get under art’s skirt and show us its parts: process, concept, display, to name a few.”
Work-in-progress Day will take place in the art galleries this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Following the event, an opening lecture and reception for “8-Hour Projects” will occur September 6 from 7 to 9 p.m., also in Doane Hall. The exhibition will remain open for visitors from Sept. 6 to Sept. 25.