Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Collaborative scavengers take over the CSU gallery

About 100 people walked down the stairs of the Centennial Student Union to the lower-level gallery space for the opening reception of “Vulture Culture,” a collaborative installation exhibit. And a taxidermied buck head with an irritated look on its face was the first thing they saw as they grew closer -- appropriately illuminating the themes of discarded materials and scavenging.

What laid below the head proved the most intriguing. A dirty toilet exploded upward with installation foam, colored hot pink and orange. To the left, a collage of black and white paper raccoons spread upward over a floral wall paper, beginning atop a green bucket filled with cupcakes. And sandwiched between was the curator of the exhibit and artist behind the piece, Dana Sikkila. As a performance piece during the reception, which was held Oct. 4, she wore a cutesy pink dress and at one point spit out pink liquid, to suggest overindulgence or "overdosing on something that's good."

The piece, called "Peppermint Puke," certainly is a focal point of the exhibit, which features nine artists from the Minnesota State University art department, each representing a different discipline in the program. Even though someone mistakenly cleaned up the pile of cupcakes, and obviously Sikkila's presence in the piece was limited to opening night, "Peppermint Puke" is nothing if not eye-catching in the gallery space.

The most intriguing aspect of the piece, however -- as well as every other piece in the installation -- is the fact that it's relatively unclear where Sikkila's piece ends.

Having met as early as the summer to plan the exhibit, the artists decided that each work should blend into the next, creating a unique collaborative effort that speaks to a larger idea.

Sikkila, a master's candidate and experienced artist who was approached to put on a show in the CSU, said while many people in the program have shown work in gallery spaces, she wanted to give an opportunity to others who may not have had as many opportunities. Represented in the show are Ian Roberts, Tyler Anderson, Krista Heinitz, Broc Toft, Bill Lundblad, Curt Germundson, Ty Abrahamson and Gina Hunt.

Hunt’s piece, "Thin Skinned and Fleeting," a digital print on Japanese paper, is an installation of three pieces that originated with the same image: Hunt's naked back after she had received injections for pain. She manipulated the images to appear worn and almost decayed. The idea was to be confrontational and vulnerable at the same time. Hanging from the ceiling and staggered, viewers are meant to walk between the pieces and see them also from the back side.

Hunt’s piece leads into "Cell," a painted wood sculpture by Abrahamson. Other mediums featured in the exhibit include sticks, fabric, acrylics, photography and even digital projections and sound.

Erik Waterkotte, an MSU art faculty member, said the show is the first time a student has put together an exhibit that wasn't for course work, and it's the first time an installation has covered all of the gallery's windows, which Sikkila said "reforms" the space and envelopes the viewer.

Waterkotte said he's glad to see students working to build the art community on campus.

If you go
"Vulture Culture," an installation featuring nine artists from the MSU art department
Runs through Wednesday, Oct. 19, in the CSU lower-level gallery

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