Arts & Culture

Hillel Gallery ‘s(t)imulates’ senses

By
Senior Staff Writer

“S(t)imulation,” an art exhibit now at the Hillel Gallery, forces viewers to search for a thread connecting a collage mural depicting exhibitionistic Facebook usage, a Venice nightscape and an abstract acrylic rock-candy composition of methamphetamine.

The answer is just as surprising as the artwork on display: In a digital age where one can access the whole world in a second, art has to be just as accessible and overstimulating. The exhibit forces viewers’ senses to race into overdrive as each successive piece brings a new question under scrutiny.

Hillel Gallery Project Co-Chairs Jungmin Lee ’11 and Rhode Island School of Design sophomore Hannah Antalek assembled this mixed-media show encapsulating the multifaceted innovations in contemporary art. Following a current trend, Lee said she and Antalek wanted to create an immersive environment in which viewers were engaged by the art and became participants in the pieces as well.

The resulting collection is meant to question the role of art in the digital age and stimulate students’ senses, Lee added.

RISD sophomore Benjamin Kicic’s mixed media pictures dominate one wall of the gallery — crudely depicting Facebook statuses, photos and comments with Kicic’s additions and exaggerations. With such titles as “How to Train Your Woman,” “No Escape When I Shake It In Your Face” and “Party Status,” the pictures invite viewers to question how far is too far in the world of social networking. At what point does privacy cease to exist when voicing personal exploits and dramas in an online forum is commonplace? How does such access skew perceptions and judgments of onlookers?

“(Pre)vision,” a vivid oil painting by Jina Park ’11, invites viewers to stare into the depth of a multi-layered iris that propels the eye from one splash of color to the next. Staring straight back into the viewers’ universe, “(Pre)vision” is more than just a pretty painting, as it touches on issues of converging societies and ideas as the spectator and the subject are tied together by their shared gaze.

Lauren Armstrong ’13 turns a traditional Venice nightscape on its head in “Venice Canal at Night.” Missing are the gondolas and landmarks — in their place is a haunting scene of a darkened waterway, devoid of human interaction. This image of the city lingers in the mind and opens new thoughts on an old city.

The gallery also includes works of wood, yarn and plaster interspersed with more traditional paintings and photos. The diversity of materials provides spectators with another opportunity to engage with the works, inspect them from new angles and develop ideas based on the materials themselves as well as the forms they take.

Timothy Simonds ’11 produced two works using tar and wood as his main tools. The resulting wall fixtures possess a simplistic beauty whose veracity is questioned by Simonds’ use of tar — the thick, opaque substance calls to mind unappealing, dark themes by its nature.

This seemingly disjointed collection actually brings together many timely questions for art and society in one space. It poses questions from new perspectives, turning over many preconceptions.

The great diversity of art is also due to the Hillel Gallery Project’s showcasing works by both Brown and RISD students.

By opening the door to pieces that appear divergent and clashing, “S(t)imulation” provides an opportunity for discussion on a multitude of topics not always possible in an art gallery.