If winding up a full semester, finishing essays, and prepping for finals wasn’t already enough work, junior Studio Art majors Nina Eichner and Caitlin O’Brien have put together A World of Art, a gallery featuring student work focused on sense of place, culture, and belonging. “We want to show the student body how important places can be to people,” O’Brien said.
As members of the International Student Association, Eichner and O’Brien wanted to bring the realms of art and culture a little closer. “The president of the ISA, Chanchala Gunewardena, contacted me at the beginning of the semester and wanted to integrate the art department with something; it was an aspect they hadn’t collaborated with yet,” said O’Brien.
“World of Art is unique and important because it brings together a department and a club,” Eichner added. “It was really great to have work from both art students and non-Studio Art students in the exhibit, and the ISA co-sponsoring the event helped to give us a great mix of international work.”
While many of the works are by international students who have much more to be homesick about than most of us, the themes represented through the work are those to which everyone can relate. “It’s really exciting work, and we’re both very impressed with all of it,” Eichner said. “It’s great to see how a simple topic can be interpreted in so many ways.”
As winter break approaches and we begin thinking about the holiday season and seeing our families, A World of Art reminds us of our inevitable attachment to where we are in the moment. In everyday speech, I find myself confusing which place is home. Is it the house and town I was raised in or my apartment and friends at Clark? What does home mean to us?
The two curators fulfilled their initial goal to “showcase the diversity of Clark students’ backgrounds and cultural connections to places around the world through their art.” The exhibit features art inspired by a myriad of places from Japan to Peru to Seattle to Guatemala. There are also some non-descript pieces about travel and prints involving road maps. The exhibit shows the broad concepts of culture and place literally and figuratively and its roll in shaping who we are.
“[Studio Art professor] Ellie Crocker was very excited and agreeable. She guided us and also gave us a lot of free range in putting the exhibit together. It’s been great to have the faculty to support us,” Eichner said. Both she and O’Brien reached out to as many students as possible to fill the exhibit in a short period of time.
“Initially we were worried that we wouldn’t have enough submissions due to time constraints, but we ended up with the perfect amount of pieces,” O’Brien said. The gallery consists of 23 pieces from 12 artists and features a range of media. “We were really excited to have a sculpture piece in the exhibit,” she added. World of Art also includes photography, drawings, prints, spray paint, and more of every kind of media the two curators wanted to include in the exhibit.
Eichner, who is also a gallery intern, said that she’d welcome the opportunity to have another student show. “We’re lucky that we go to a small school that allows us to do this. I don’t think we’d have the same opportunity to have this experience elsewhere.”