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Temporary Contemporary Art

Semester’s best: Gallery 5 hosts a class full of ideas

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In the slide show above, listen to students from Dana Clancy’s Contemporary Issues class talk about their work, and being a student in visual arts.

Last week, Benjamin Swanson carefully painted crisscrossing black lines and text on a wall of Gallery 5, only to paint over the floor-to-ceiling canvas a week later.

Swanson (CFA’11) wasn’t making a statement — he was making room for the next installation created by students in the Contemporary Issues class of Dana Clancy, a College of Fine Arts assistant professor. The installations arrive at the rate of one a week in November.

Market, a full-scale model of an outdoor market made from recycled material, opens tonight, November 9. It follows Text Worship and Pictures on a Wall, and precedes Parts, which begins November 16.

“To me this was an exercise in presentation and professionalism, learning how to create an installation,” says Swanson, who was part of the group using words as art in Text Worship.

Market, says Samantha Silverman (CFA’11), who helped build the installation opening tonight, is intended to challenge expectations about the items “sold.”

“When going to a market, no one would ever expect pillow meats, felt bread loafs, and cannoli made out of toilet paper rolls,” she says. “There is definitely a humorous tone. On the other hand, our group noticed a theme of consumerism and its relationship to waste.”

Clancy pushed the boundaries of her class geographically, taking them to the Clark Institute in Williamstown, and Mass MoCA in North Adams, with help from a Grant for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarship (GUTS).

“Most contemporary art requires audience interaction,” she says. “It’s not an attempt to convert anyone to like contemporary art, but installations, sculpture, and large-scale wall paintings don’t work in reproduction — they were made to be experienced in space and time.”

Clancy also wanted to push her students to work together, something the students don’t always experience in a studio art lifestyle.

“We all have very distinct styles and methods,” says Silverman. “In planning the show, we were concerned with finding a way to create an installation piece that uses versatile mediums, while maintaining a unified theme. We also want the concept to be accessible outside of the art world.”

Gallery 5, an exhibition space near students’ studios where they can plan, propose, and install professional-quality exhibitions, is open during the building’s regular hours.

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu.

This story originally ran November 9, 2009.

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