Straight from the walls of your art professors: 'Creators Collect'

Daily Arts Writer
Published September 20, 2010

Imagine being a fly on the wall inside the homes of faculty members of the School of Art & Design, checking out the art that surrounds them every day. “Creators Collect” in Slusser Gallery allows the public to do just that, no metamorphoses required. The collection features one-of-a-kind pieces acquired by the faculty mainly for personal pleasure, revealing what makes the creators and collectors tick.

"Creators Collect"

Closing Oct. 5
Slusser Gallery

For curator and professor of art Edward West, the impetus for such an exhibition was the notion that we all lead secret lives, and that through the art chosen by different faculty members, the public will be able to glimpse into a part of their lives that may otherwise go unseen.

“I was interested in the private domains of public figures,” he explained. “We see this when a public figure’s estate goes on sale and we learn what they kept throughout their lives.”

The faculty members’ “estate” is wide ranging, including everything from paintings to pop-culture advertisements to furniture. Each object tells viewers about the person who values it. West believes “artists tend to notice interesting things before there is a trend,” so the exhibition could even be valuable in predicting the art world's future. It also allows viewers to contemplate what they value themselves and what fuels their daily productivity.

In a statement regarding his contributions to the exhibition, West describes his childhood fascination with cinema and how it still affects him today.

“It is this intrigue… of films that captured me. To this day, movies provide that sustained time away from whatever it is and even now the way I refer to films is ‘large and in color, sensorial.’ ”

Associate professor of art Nick Tobier wrote in his statement of his additions, which include objects and images related to travel, “I've always had an idea that I could build myself a contraption that would take me anywhere. I also appreciate the fusion between driver (or) operator and vehicle — where work to be done, or the life to be led is one that in which the object and the animator are integral to one another.”

A rather unusual offering to the exhibition comes from associate professor of art Joe Trumpey, who lent his collection of animal skulls.

“Skulls are elegant artifacts of vertebrate evolution. Their form and function reveal the life stories of each organism and I find them inherently beautiful. Each fused amalgamation of bones is similar and yet different — the variation reflecting the different lives of each species,” he wrote in his statement.

As is expected due to the exhibit’s personal nature, West’s biggest challenge in assembling the exhibition was “convincing people to give (their possessions) up.”

“Most of what you see in the exhibit were on the walls of their homes. They feel the removal from their world deeply. Since most are truly irreplaceable or linked to personal memory, they have second thoughts about saying yes.”

The generosity of the faculty has materialized into an unusual opportunity for everyone to examine what each of us holds dear. The exhibition provides this opportunity by clearly demonstrating the disparity and conjunction of the art world and the private lives of artists.

“We as a creative community exhibit constantly, but those images and objects are made to enter the public dialogue,” said West.

This means that the exhibition is rare in that the featured pieces were not intended to be put on display. However, at a university where diversity and originality are not only expected but encouraged, “Creators Collect” fits.