Megan Palumbo & Danielle Hogan – Co-Editor-in-Chief & Arts Editor
Artists and guests ooded the gallery admiring the different interpretations of truth. (R) Professor Baldizar’s “OUT OF MANY, ONE” was inspired by many immigrant faces coming together to create a diverse and united country. (L)
The Wedeman Gallery held its monthly artists’ reception on Saturday, March 2 from 7-10 p.m. in the Yamawaki Center for the Arts to celebrate this month’s exhibit “Truth Stories,” presented by ART/Word. The exhibit began Feb. 26 and was on display until March 23.
ART/Word was formed by Associate Professor of Graphic Design Stephen Fischer in 1981 and is a co-op of 25 visual and performance artists who put together a freshly themed annual exhibit. According to Fischer, he initially started this artists’ cooperative to keep personal and professional connections with his previous colleagues. “Our name ‘ART/Word’ represents the central purpose for our artist collaborative, which is to celebrate the relationship of text and image and how each compliments the other,” Fischer wrote in an email, “The foundational reason for the group is to maintain personal and professional relation- ships. I live for that stuff.”
The community consists of new and old members who specialize in visual and performing arts, providing a harmonious balance in an exhibit. “The cross-pollination of techniques, style choices and ideas that happens quite naturally between musicians when they play together is sometimes difficult to accomplish in a eld like illustration when most of the illustrator’s work is done in solitude,” said Fischer.
The gallery flooded with buzz and laughter. Fruit and cheese platters attracted guests on the first floor. Guests 21+ could receive a craft beer or a glass of chilled wine upstairs. The artists were flooded with people surrounding them, excited to tell their truth and display their art.
Fischer believes anyone who attends an ART/ Word event is “automatically and magically a member of ART/Word” and he invites musicians, actors, readers, dancers, and singers to explore the common theme. “Through different modalities, we explore the many facets of a single idea,” he said.
This year’s theme was relevant to the current social climate. “The majority of our days are spent determining if someone or something is genuine or not,” said Fischer. “The value of works of art is often based on how much it “rings true.” Everyone could relate to [the theme] and there was so much diversity in the responses.”
For Professor Deborah Baldizar, she sought diversity in truth through the current immigration crisis. “I just fundamentally believe that the United States is built on all different people coming from all different places, all different cultures, and making this one place where you can come together and compromise and live peacefully,” said Baldizar. “So I wanted my piece to echo that idea.”
She took her inspiration from photos of Ellis Island crowds and directly focused on the children. She cut out faces, pieced them together like a puzzle and cast clay faces. Each face was unique and varied; the display was organized to resemble a head and shoulders silhouette made up of various pottery faces, stained
and bisque red.
For Fischer, the idea behind “Truth Stories” came about so easy, he couldn’t believe it hadn’t occurred to him before. However, he said, “More often [the themes] are the result of exploratory conversations with contributing artists. It could happen at dinner parties or other gatherings. I usually have one to offer at the start of summer so that people have plenty of time to ruminate and experiment.”
Professor Lynn Blake’s favorite part of the exhibit are these discus- sions of the theme among the artists and collaborators. She described this discussion of truth as intense and wonderful, contemplating what truth meant to each of them. “It really came from all of us struggling in the contemporary environment that we’re in,” said Blake.
Blake’s piece used photo negatives placed delicately onto watercolor paper. The subject of the photo is her daughter. She’s posed in a mink coat and beret. “I’m struggling with believing that there’s any truth anyway and that really kind of speaks to the judgment of people and hearsay of people so. She’s supposed to look provocative,” she said. “The things that really brought her to this way of being are layers of things that happened.”
The artists’ reception was successful with a large attendance, despite a snowstorm earlier that day. Fischer was happy with the turnout and said, “I most appreciate that everyone who participates in the show takes it so seriously and professionally. They wrestle with [the theme] that they are given, they explore many possibilities, they take risks in their work, they become vulnerable and share something personal and profound. That takes time, hard work, and courage — more of these three things that people often recognize.”
Photos courtesy of Megan Palumbo.