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Recycled art exhibit opens

By Jessica Wilder     9/28/11 7:00pm

Over the next month, many students might be surprised to recognize their old belongings reconstructed and reinvented as new art. On Sept. 29, the Matchbox Gallery opened "Repurposed," a modern art exhibit displaying works of recycled materials and images.

"Repurposed" is a collaboration between Rice students Dolly Li and Elliott SoRelle. Li's part of the exhibit is entitled "Reconstructed Used Furniture," and is her second work in a series of "furniture" pieces made from recycled materials. SoRelle's part of the exhibit, "Suspended," is a display of images recycled from previous photographic work. SoRelle said they decided to combine their pieces into one exhibit when they realized that the content of their work is schematically linked.

Li, a Baker College senior and Assistant Director of the Matchbox Gallery, said that her work is constructed mainly from plastic bags and cardboard boxes.

"Most of the material was donated by people from Rice, so it is a reflection of what our community consumes," she said.

SoRelle, a Lovett College senior and Director of the Matchbox Gallery, said the idea for "Suspended" first came to him while he was sorting through his unused photo prints. His work deliberately takes objects and images out of their original contexts to create a new dynamic.

"I realized that old images could make new meanings from each other," he said.

SoRelle said that their collaboration on the exhibit was designed to encourage the audience to experience conventional space in an unconventional way, through vertical rather than horizontal exploration. Li's "Reconstructed Used Furniture" is presented on the floor, and visitors are encouraged to sit on the work and physically experience it. While horizontally experiencing Li's piece, the audience is in the perfect position to visually experience SoRelle's work, which is suspended vertically above the furniture.

The Thursday night opening included beer and other refreshments provided by the Visual and Dramatic Arts Department, as well as music courtesy of KTRU.

Both artists said they were very thankful for the opportunity to present their work on campus.

The Matchbox Gallery, with the support of Visual and Dramatic Arts Professor Christopher Sperandio, has been Rice's student-run space for contemporary art since its inauguration in Oct. 2009. Located in Sewall Hall 258, the gallery takes its name from its small space and black walls.

According to its website, the mission of the Matchbox Gallery is to "provide a flexible, alternative space for young artists; to provide motivated individuals with a unique opportunity to direct, curate and manage a working exhibition space; and to engage the arts at Rice with the greater Houston community."

Since its creation, Matchbox has exhibited the visual and performance-based work of dozens of artists from the Rice community. The gallery also features artists from around the Houston area.

"The Matchbox Gallery is the outreach effort of the Arts Department," SoRelle said.

The Matchbox Gallery is supported by the Rice Visual and Dramatic Arts Department and the Rice Public Art Program. In 2009, Matchbox was awarded a Leadership Rice Envision Grant. Proceeds from the award are being used to make structural improvements to the gallery.

"Repurposed" will be open by appointment with the Matchbox Gallery until Oct. 27. Li and SoRelle said their hope is that the exhibit will be a fun environment and offer good exposure for the Art Department .

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