Confronting Our Identities

Every time I step into an art gallery, I feel a desperate urge to find the energy and meaning of the work displayed by an artist. Yes, the artist’s didactic helps explain the concept of what the artist had in mind when building the exhibition. But truly superior art exhibitions have a distinct layout that delivers their content in an engaging setup and allows spectators to freely roam about the gallery.

The final round of senior studio art majors exhibitions for Independent Study accomplished both feats this week in Ebert Art Center. communication studies and studio art double majors Hayet Rida ’11 and Taylor Lamborn ’11 appropriately utilized the building to present unique and insightful installations.

On the ground floor, Rida’s exhibition “Nzu-Kaa” graced all boundaries of the area to showcase a wide variety of her artistic talents. As part of her I.S., Rida traveled to remote villages in Ghana and taught photography† techinques to the women she met there. As a result of her experiences, she discovered that she became exposed to the women’s perspective of beauty. “Beauty became an experience made up of colors, fabrics and emotions,” said Rida. This was carefully displayed in select photographs taken by some of the women that she met during her visit.

Each photo gave a beautiful perspective on moments in their lives. One photograph by a woman named Yaba captured gray shadows falling over a group of men fishing by the shores of the sea, as a lone figure prepared the net. Rida discussed in detail the significance of this photograph during the I.S. Symposium, explaining that Yaba took a lot of pictures of men in her attempt to find the father of her child. This photograph, like the rest, had a dual purpose: artistic creation and therapeutic endevaors. It captured a simple, gorgeous moments and had the potential to enable emotional closure.

In the middle of the gallery was a collection of the fabrics wrapped around variously sized boxes. The colorful texture and circular patterns of the fabrics projected a youthful and lively energy reminiscent of designs on the women’s dresses. Dual projections of Rida’s photographs created a picture of a model with fabrics seemingly† embedded into her skin. The fabric was gracefully draped on model’s body, representing the artist’s quest to feel a sense of national identity.

After gazing at these warm and rich photographs, I climbed the stairs to see what Lamborn had designed. Her work surprised me with a carefully constructed and powerfully motivated exhibition that tested my relationship with the seductive nature of advertising. Titled “Selling Air,” Lamborn’s show delivered a critique of society’s investment of capitalizing our desire to make a profit from natural resources.

The first part of the display featured a number of conceptual ads selling pure mountain air in bottles labeled “Clarity.” With the use of cool blues and self-made fonts, Lamborn successfully displayed her creative talent in effective and captivating graphics and memborable phrases.

Lines such as “inspiration…we bottle that,” stuck with me and reminded me of the influential power media holds over the public. It was like walking into a relaxing dream where the advertisements reinforced this calming environment.

But beyond these displays was a slightly hidden passage to reveal the purpose of her project. Inside the Copeland-funded display was a multitude of plastic bags full of empty water bottles. This canopy of man-made objects drove my focus to a mirror with Lamborn’s didactic statement delicately written by hand that allowed viewers to contemplate the impacts of their own consumption. She noted in this statement that bottling water was unheard of in the 1970s, but it has become ubiquitous today.

“We’re spoiled for taking the earth for granted,” said Lamborn. It then dawned on me that the galleries were connected by a sense of inspiration. Rida helped me focus on how beauty can be projected onto all aspects of life, while Lamborn challenged my knowledge of how we utilize our natural resources in an unhealthy and destructive manner.

With a fine selection of unique work, both artists have mastered the† technique of allowing art to change perspectives on multiple levels. To learn more about Lamborn’s adverising campaign and ecological discussion, look out for the official opening of her website findclairity.com.

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