A portrait of a man with a banana peel for a nose, and another of a man with twigs as hair are one of the many collages that uses objects to portray people in the exhibit “The Whimsical World of Hanoch Piven.” The work of the Israeli artist famous for these caricatures is currently on display at the Jewish Community Center until April 30.
“No Vacancies”, on display until March 2 in the Thacher Gallery of Gleeson Library, is a series of photographs representing numerous San Francisco neighborhoods. One would say it’s a plain piece, but the colorful stills ingeniously disguise their political nature. In reference to an Edward Ruscha artifact, artist Sergio de la Torre exposes neighborhoods where immigration and customs enforcement raids took place. The “Google map” point of view engages the spectator as one recognizes their home, associating the political character of the piece to one’s personal life.
The purpose of STEAMED is to create an environment which promotes art as a determinant in building our world, and therefore an equal of science. Designed by USF’s art faculty, the exhibition explores the necessary, yet rarely acknowledged connection between art and the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The gallery includes works made not just by craftspersons but also by problem solvers.
Scott Murray’s “Geometric” explores the Sierpinski triangle—a fractal, or, a mathematical set displaying similar patterns, obtained by repeatedly removing smaller triangles from the original shape. Projected on a screen, the triangle responds to our movements, bringing geometry to life, while also aestheticizing it.
Our interaction with “Geometric” becomes quite playful and you may surprisingly find yourself dancing in front of the screen for a rather long time.
Whether it is a rock climbing wall, or look-a-like Lego bricks made out of mushrooms, STEAMED urges us to look at a world where art and science are one discipline.
Photo by Katie Butler
USF has partnered with The Mexican Museum to present ¡Escultura!. It is a collection of metal sculptures crafted by Latino and Mexican artists. The exhibition is located at the Kalmanovitz Hall Sculpture Terrace on the third floor of Kalmanovitz, and is free and open to the public weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The eight sculptures include works by Byron Galvez, Gunther Gerzso, Manuel Neri and Francisco Zúñiga. The exhibit will continue throughout the semester, until December 12, 2014,
and educational tours are available upon request.
This past week my attention was drawn to Russia, when I learned that a man in Moscow nailed his scrotum to the cobblestone street in Red Square in an act of protest against the nation’s growing apathy towards the Kremlin’s “police state.” I immediately questioned to what degree self-mutilation takes precedence in art, and to what extent such an act truly influences a nation’s political conversation.
In the summer of 2012, three women were tried for hooliganism in Moscow’s Khamovniki District Court after singing an anti-Putin song in a church. The women were members of a punk rock group, Pussy Riot. They were subsequently found guilty and sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
After the trial, Russia erupted in riots and protests in support of Pussy Riot. Perhaps the most silent protester was then 28-year-old Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky, who sewed his mouth shut and stood outside of St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral holding a sign that read, “Pussy Riot act is a replay of a famous act by Jesus Christ.”
Pavlensky’s self-mutilation garnered immediate international attention, as he spotlighted the relationship between President Vladimir Putin’s oppressive government and the tyrannical history of the Russian Orthodox Church — which coincidentally endorsed Putin as a candidate during his campaign for presidential office.
In an online inter- view with “Dazed Digital,” Pavlensky stated his protest was merely intended to demon strate how Russian citizens are “living in an environment where there’s a ban on public ity, the tightening of censorship, and suppression of public statements in contemporary art.”
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian government has passed multiple laws in an attempt to restrict citizens’ freedom of expression, assembly, and association. They have enacted strict anti-blasphemy laws, limited digital freedom, re-criminalized libel, and banned homosexual propaganda — the latter occurring mostly recently in June, when President Putin signed into effect the highly controversial “anti-gay” law.
Still, Pavlensky seems to be the lone crusader against political tyranny.
On the morning of Nov. 10, Russia’s national Police Day, Pavlensky made headlines once more, sending social media aflutter as he marched to Moscow’s Red Square, stripped naked, and nailed his scrotum to the cobblestone street outside of Lenin’s Mausoleum. Authorities promptly draped a blanket over him to shield him from the eyes of pedestrians and tourists before he was taken to a hospital for treatment — and then arrested. The Russian authorities have yet to release a statement about Pavlensky’s act, but it is speculated that he will be charged with hooliganism and serve prison time, the same fate as the Pussy Riot members. Prior to the demonstration, Pavlensky published a statement on grani.ru, a Russian news website, stating that his act would be a “metaphor for the apathy, political indifference, and fatalism of contemporary Russian society.”
What is starkly different about Pavlensky’s protest this time around is that fellow Russians did not rally behind him in support. Yet, that is the very point of Pavlensky’s message. He is not just a man who is protesting his government — if nailing one’s genitals to the ground is not a call to action with the intent of mustering public interest, I do not know what is. If Russian citizens want to free themselves from oppression, they must stand in solidarity against their government. Otherwise, the government will continue to grip them by the balls.
Kimberlee Parton is a sophomore International Studies major.
On Tuesday March 27, the USF Thacher Gallery hosted the opening reception for, “Aroused Tranquility: Graphic Botanicals.” The exhibit is a comprehensive look at the work of illustrator, printmaker, and botanist Henry Evans. Evans was a renowned Bay Area artist who worked from observation and mixed his own paints to depict plants in life-sized renderings.
“The idea was to feature a local artist with deep San Francisco roots. Evans had an incredibly fine understanding of the natural world,” said Fr. Thomas Lucas, director of the Thacher Gallery.
Of the extensive collection of prints on display, the university acquired 12 prints of native California plants to be on permanent display in the new Center of Science and Innovation. The rest of the prints are on loan from Evan’s widow, Marsha Evans.
The “Aroused Tranquility” exhibit not only featured Evan’s prolific life work in the Thacher Gallery, but also incorporated a collaboration with the Donohue Rare Book Room, and art + architecture professor Fr. Arturo Araujo’s printmaking class. The exhibit is displayed on both the first and third floor of the North wing of the Gleeson Library. The event was set to a beautiful performance by the USF student musicians’ Chamber Ensemble.
On the third floor of the Gleeson Library in the Donohue Rare Book Room, printmaking students were able to use an antique Albion Press to create colorful linoleum prints of flowers. The Albion Press belonged to the renowned printmaker, typographer, and artist Eric Gill, and was made in 1854 in London.
“The students did a great job with the project, and had the pleasure of working with the Albion Press. The assignment was on linoleum printmaking, and the students had to use three layers of linoleum to make an image,” said Fr. Araujo. He jokingly added, “You know, this is before Photoshop.”
“It was a great collaboration between the Rare Book Room and the Thacher Gallery. It was exciting to work with students, and have them use the Rare Book Room press.” said John Hock, the Rare Book Room librarian.
Some of Evan’s highlighted works were on display in glass cases in the Donohue Rare Book Room.
The students also reacted to the exhibit with enthusiasm. Senior Graphic Design major Evan Kikawa chose to enroll in Printmaking class in the last semester of his career at USF.
“I was exciting to get to use an old press and have a different experience than in the classroom,” said Kikawa. “My senior design project is focused on printmaking for a t-shirt line, so this printmaking assignment was like a dream come true.”
“I feel honored to be able to be a part of this exhibit,” said sophomore Nicole Carroll, a fine arts minor, in Fr. Araujo’s Printmaking class.” Being able to do a homage to Henry Evans, collaborating with other printmaking students, and putting on a show for the public has been an awesome experience.”
Be sure to check out “Aroused Tranquility: Graphic Botanicals,” on display until April 22.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, USF faculty, students, and community members gathered to celebrate the opening reception of “Richard Kamler: A Retrospective” at the Thacher Gallery. This haunting exhibit features the work of the USF Department of Art + Architecture professor Richard Kamler, who retired last year.
The exhibit boasts a large collection of Kamler’s sketchbook drawings, paintings, objects, and photos of his installations focusing on social and political activism. As resident artist of the San Quentin Prison in the 1980’s, many of Kamler’s pieces explore the problems within the California criminal justice system. Kamler’s work brings attention to the pressing issues that the public often chooses to ignore.
“Richard is a pioneer in socially engaged art. This exhibit really engages the school’s mission and values,” said Fr. Thomas Lucas, director of the Thacher Gallery. “This is not an easy show. It challenges preconceptions and makes us reflect on the hard issues of our world and within our local political scene.”
Among the many pieces on display, Kamler’s work “Table of Voices” (1994-1996) was one that packed a powerful emotional punch. In the middle of the gallery, “Table of Voices” is a two-sided table separated by a glass panel; one side made of lead, the other side covered in gold leaf. Attached to both sides of the table are telephones that play the voices of the perpetrators on one side, and the voices of the victim’s families on the other side in real time.
“It was an effort to bring together both the perpetrators and the parents of the murdered children,” explained Kamler. “I chose to use lead and gold as a reference to alchemy, the way lead can transform into gold.”
For art appreciation professor Mary Mattlage the show, and particularly “Table of Voices”, had a “powerful impact” on her. “I’m interested in the way Richard uses materials like lead and gold leaf to give a sense of a physical experience. He brings humanity to the prisoners through his images and recorded dialogues,” said Mattlage.
Other works such as “The Waiting Room” (1999-2001) further explore Kamler’s concentration on the prison system. “The Waiting Room” is an installation piece featuring a small prison cell and a swinging pendulum projected onto the wall. Within the cell is a lead sculpture of the prisoners’ last meals on a cart. The headphones attached to the cell play the haunting drone of a pendulum.
“The piece is about the death penalty,” said Kamler. “The pendulum swings continuously, and every so often a heat beat will sound for about 2-3 minutes. It goes on and off until it stutters and stops.”
These kinds of works are meant to provoke the viewer to rethink important political and social issues regarding legal reform of the prison system. Kamler’s politically charged art has drawn attention on both the national and international scale.
“I am most impressed to see Richard Kamler’s work used as a catalyst for social change. That’s exactly what our students learn here. Art is not a neutral entity. It can have a positive impact,” said USF president Fr. Stephen Privette.
“I draw inspiration from the world,” said Kamler. “Art is about engagement. I look around at the world and I see how art can play a role in social change.”
Check out “Richard Kamler: A Retrospective” at the Thacher Gallery at the USF Gleeson Library, on display until Mar. 4.