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Arts & Culture

Visual Art Department offers students opportunity to curate exhibitions

VISA concentrators highlight heritage, food motifs in solo, group exhibitions

senior staff writer
Thursday, January 31, 2019

From Dec. 21 to Jan. 31, List Art Center hosted exhibitions curated by VISA concentrators. Students took the opportunity to express themes important to their identities through their artwork using a variety of mediums, including photography, videography and collage.

Students from the Brown Department of Visual Art showcased their artwork in exhibitions at the List Art Center.

The exhibitions, which opened Dec. 21 and close Jan. 31, gave Isabela Lovelace ’20, Caitlin Takeda ’20 and Miranda Villanueva ’20 an opportunity to present art that reflected on everything from food to deeply personal experiences.

Lovelace’s first solo exhibition, titled “the ambient medium del medio ambient,” explored the “concept of home and the stability of home,” she said. With one parent from the Caribbean and the other from Southern California, the two recent natural disasters of Hurricane Maria and the debris flow through Santa Barbara have drastically impacted Lovelace’s connection with places integral to her identity, she wrote in her artist’s statement.

“I decided to explore those concepts through art and integrate my other concentration, which is geology, within this exhibition to explore not only the parameters of disasters, but the impact disasters have on the land as well,” Lovelace said.

Similar to Lovelace’s, Takeda’s solo exhibition was closely related to her heritage. After learning more about Japanese-American incarceration during World War II, Takeda was moved by a trip to Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, where her grandfather had been confined. Through the exhibition, Takeda intended “to reframe” the incarceration sites; instead of portraying them from the perspective of government photography, she wanted to illustrate the “very deep emotional and familial ties” within the site.

While Lovelace and Takeda each curated solo exhibitions, Villanueva curated a group exhibition, which was titled “Whetted Appetites” and used food as a common motif among the pieces. Five artists, including Villanueva, had artwork on display, using a variety of mediums. Villanueva’s own piece “Red Wine and Cherries (Self Portrait no. II),” a collage that used food to resemble a menstruating woman’s body, shared thematic similarities with a collection of short videos filmed by Nicole Cochary ’19. Both of these pieces touched on “absurdity in advertisement,” Villanueva said. Another artist, Herald illustrator Pia Mileaf-Patel ’20, showcased a series of 32 photos titled “Italian hours.” Her piece, and the showcased images by Alex Westfall ’20, both reflected on “food in conjunction to memory,” Villanueva said. Alyssa Rodriguez ’19.5 contributed a video to the exhibition, in which she filmed herself eating an onion to “think about the disgust and possession and ownership of a body,” Villanueva added.

“There are a lot of people who want gallery spaces, but it’s not too difficult to get one if you want it,” Villanueva said. The VISA department selected students through the process of a lottery. Once selected, the department has resources to guide students along the process of curating, she added.

“A lot of good ideas come out of being inspired by other people’s work,” Lovelace said, who has also been part of a group exhibition before. But her first solo exhibition allowed her to “manage a lot more details” that went into the show. “There was a lot more just my own thoughts and my pieces, and I could determine a lot more,” she added.

For these VISA concentrators, the exhibitions provided the opportunity to gain more experience in creating personalized shows.

“You get the chance to curate, which is not something you get to do all the time. … This is kind of a good opportunity to experience something outside the norm,” Villanueva said.

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