Art in 8 Hours

Christina Bryson, Contributing Writer

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Eight hours. A room full of artists. Twelve different results.

The Doane Hall of Art hosted 12 artists on Saturday, Aug. 31, to participate in this year’s 8 Hour Projects: Performativity.
Edith Abeyta, Matthew Conboy, Casey Droege, Corey Escoto, April Flanders, Andrea Sherrill Evans, Daniel Luchman, Patrick Schmidt, Becky Slemmons, Kirk Amaral Snow, Garett Yahn and Jennifer Yorke were invited by curator Darren Miller to be this year’s artists.

Caitie McMekin / The Campus Andrea Evans pulls a log from the pile and looks for another log to bundle it with for her exhibit at the 8 Hour Projects in Doane Hall of Art on Aug. 31st 2013. Evans was examining our relationship with nature.

Caitie McMekin / The Campus
Andrea Evans pulls a log from the pile and looks for another log to bundle it with for her exhibit at the 8 Hour Projects in Doane Hall of Art on Aug. 31st 2013. Evans was examining our relationship with nature.

“I was interested in those artists in particular because I thought that they were using elements of repetitive action of their bodies as either the medium or as the tool for which the media were used,” Miller said.

The artists began working at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and ended at 6 p.m. when Miller locked the gallery doors.

“I tell my students you have to play, not work in the studio,” Schmidt said. “When you’re working you’re always watching the clock and you’re bored. When you’re playing, time will elapse and you’re having fun and who cares what the outcome is.”

All artists were encouraged to use some element of performance in their work and many involved the spectators in their piece.

Slemmons relied solely on audience participation. For the eight hour duration, Slemmons did not speak. Instead, she conversed by painting images. Draping a sheet to block herself from the rest of the gallery, her only interaction with the public was through a small wooden box. People were encouraged to start a conversation and insert phrases, questions, statements, quotations, anything written, and she would respond through a canvas.

Caitie McMekin / The Campus Casey Drouge from Pittsburgh skims through old children's books looking for illustrations for her 8 Hour Project in the Doanne Hall of Art on Aug. 31st. 2013.

Caitie McMekin / The Campus
Casey Drouge from Pittsburgh skims through old children’s books looking for illustrations for her 8 Hour Project in the Doanne Hall of Art on Aug. 31st. 2013.

“It was exciting submitting a quote, seeing how the artist interpreted it and then comparing it to what you yourself envisioned,” said Chloe Kedziora, 16’.

“Art is a valid and beautiful language in itself—an amazing form of communication. It is open, inclusive, international and borderless,” Slemmons wrote in her artist’s statement. “How many times, when travelling in a country where English is not spoken, have I stopped to draw communicative images when my accented attempts at speaking have failed?”

Other artists who participated on Saturday were Conboy, who had students following footsteps and splattering paint, Abeyta, who streamed live videos of students to other directors across the country, and Snow.

Miller credits Snow as being one of the artists who really exemplified the show’s theme.

“He was testing the physical limits of his body,” Miller said about Snow’s performance piece. “How long could he hold to a glass of water before his muscles were so fatigued he didn’t have the motor control to hold onto it anymore? I think that’s really testing what your body can and can’t do.”
All 12 works will remain on display in the gallery through Sunday, Sept. 22.

“Even if you weren’t there for the work-in-progress day, I think people who go in can still engage with the objects that are in the space and really appreciate how they’re crafted, how they’re composed and how the artist decided to use the space to create a visual experience for the viewer,” Miller said.

In addition to Saturday’s work-in-progress day, Conboy, Escoto, Schmidt and Slemmons returned Tuesday, Sept. 3, for the gallery’s opening and a panel discussion. The four artists discussed their process and also tapped into the importance of performance in art.

Schmidt especially emphasized the role of performance. He credits himself as developing the work, but the audience must alter and interact with the piece.

“The viewer that walks by, they’re unintended audience. They pause and they look,” Schmidt said. “It’s a very Buddhist idea that nothing is permanent. Why should your artwork be this stagnant thing?”

The Eight Hour Project series has been on campus since 2003, giving students and the community an event to explore the process of creating artwork. It lets people see a completed journey: from raw materials, an idea, experimenting, adjusting and collaborating, to the final product.

“Eight Hour Projects are about process and process is not necessarily tied to a beautiful, saleable, object at the end,” Miller said. “Sometimes that means the exhibition can be a little bit homely. In this case, it’s really quite beautiful.”

 

 

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