Exhibit features installation art

A defiant generation of artists in the '60s obliterated the traditional line between artist and spectator by creating installation art.

The amorphous artform continues to soar beyond the typical boundaries of interaction, space and time.


Richard Gwin / lawrence.com

Justin Riley, a Kansas University sophomore majoring in sculpture, shows off some components of an installation art piece he's creating for a class exhibit. The show will be on display Tuesday through Friday at KU's Art and Design Gallery.

The seventh Installation Class 2003 Annual Exhibition, on view Tuesday through Friday at Kansas University's Art and Design Gallery, features creative interpretations within this genre by KU students.

"It's surprising because you don't know exactly what it is that you will be seeing," said associate professor of art Maria Velasco, who's teaching the installation class. "Installation students don't have a media-orientated premise. They work from a concept, take an idea they want to explore and use a combination of media so that idea can be expressed in a space."

Installation is an open-ended term. Artists working in the genre can create relationships between any combination of media -- from video and performance to sculpture and textiles.

The limitless combinations make this genre nearly impossible to define, and the concept-oriented artform is open for innovation.

"It's video, music, sound, time, things that are ephemeral," said Kendra Herring, KU graduate student in painting. "Many times it blends into performance art, and sometimes the viewer or artist is directly involved in the piece as well."

Above all, "Installation forces you to think about more than one surface or dimension by using three- and four-dimensional space," she said. "It uses the floor, wall, sound and time to push how the viewer interacts with the space."

Class members have only one stipulation: Their projects must revolve around the central theme of illusion and reality. Other than that, materials and concepts are up to the artist's imagination.

"Someone gave me three huge barrels of glitter that had been stored in a warehouse since the 60s. I said 'What can I make from this?'" Herring said of her project. "That was the starting point because I'm really attracted to things in excess."

Some students have constructed exhibitions at home, while others have formulated projects in the studio. But until the gallery exhibition is erected, the pieces are incomplete.

"You don't get a sense of the piece until it's exhibited in its entirety. It might not look like much until it's there," Herring said. "You work on all the facets and parts, the little pieces that make it a whole. Once you install them in the space is when you see it as a cohesive installation."

Along with using video and mirrors, Justin Riley, a KU sophomore majoring in sculpture, will consider the audience's role in his work. Upon entering the space, viewers will become a part of the piece. "It's about the audience being in it as well. Without someone viewing it, the piece is incomplete," Riley said.

What: The Installation Class 2003 Annual ExhibitionWhen: Tuesday through FridayWhere: The Kansas University Art and Design Gallery, in the Art and Design Building

The radical Fluxus movement of the 60s, dotted with provocative iconoclasts such as Joseph Beuys and Allan Kaprow, embraced artists that no longer wanted to be confined by one traditional media.

"These artists wanted to blur the boundaries between life and art," Velasco said. Their techniques were the "seeds for installation art. They opened so many doors that artists now days are still exploring."

-- Monica White is a Kansas University journalism student.


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