Art is all about perspective and finding a new way of looking at the world around us. This year’s Mavis C. Pitman Exhibition features three Rice University artists’ perspectives on their chosen theme: “groundwork.”
Art is all about perspective and finding a new way of looking at the world around us. This year’s Mavis C. Pitman Exhibition features three Rice University artists’ perspectives on their chosen theme: “groundwork.” From the display of bananas to colorful banners to eggshells, this gallery exhibit is thought-provoking and pushes viewers to look at common themes in a fresh way.
Each year, the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts awards three visual arts or studio track majors with a cash grant to put toward the construction of an original body of work to display in the Pitman Exhibition. This exhibit is currently on display in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts gallery in the Rice Media Center through Feb. 28. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year, the Pitman Exhibition features the work of Duncan College senior Jessica Fuquay, Duncan junior Lydia Smith and Will Rice College senior Hye Jeon Jeon. All three artists created cohesive bodies of work that portrayed their ties to the theme of “groundwork.”
Fuquay’s work revolves around the ground, particularly growth. Her exhibit, featuring bananas on pedestals and video work of banana cultivation, focuses on the historical legacy of the banana industry in Latin America and how banana companies have exploited and manipulated the people of the countries where they have made their fortunes.
Fuquay said the use of such an ordinary object as the core of her work was her way of making people think about the flaws in modern capitalism and their presence in everyday life.
“I think focusing on something so small can actually point to larger structural problems which are prevalent in the way global capitalism works,” Fuquay said. “[The banana is] much more approachable because it’s a common object that you see everyday, consume everyday.”
Smith’s work consists of colorful silk banners strewn across the main lobby of the gallery. The term “groundwork” relates to her incorporation of her Czech heritage into her work. Smith said her inspiration stems from her stay in Prague last year and the hard drive malfunction that distorted all of her photographs from the experience.
Smith said the familiar scenes from her photographs were transformed and became almost unrecognizable, but she came to love them as new memories.
“They kind of resemble a new place,” Smith said. “So I selected a few and decided I wanted to make them into organic living objects, like reincarnate them in different forms [to] emphasize their impermanence.”
Jeon’s eye-catching display includes a central piece of shattered egg lanterns on the floor, as well as various images on the ceiling that Jeon created after asking people to suggest artwork they themselves were not able to produce. Her interactive work, which asks the viewer to contemplate the ceiling images as if they were constellations, focuses on the theme of organic art and the organic development of art, which ties her designs to “groundwork.”
Above all else, Jeon said she wanted to create a connection between herself and the viewer.
“The idea was basically to access the images and collect images from people because everyone has this idea of whatever they want to make, and [I wanted] to recreate them using my own skills,” Jeon said. “So, it’s in a way, a conversation with people.”