Student travelers illustrate their experiences through art

BY NORA FELDHUSEN
Daily Arts Writer
Published September 11, 2008

During the school year, Tatiana Calixto is a lecturer of Spanish in the Romance Language Department. This past summer, she spent her time photographing the daily lives and culture of the Andean people with whom she lived nearly 4,000 miles away in Cusco, Peru.

Her work is displayed at the Slusser Gallery in the School of Art & Architecture as part of an exhibit opening this evening at 6 p.m. called “From Here to There.” The exhibit will show work by students, faculty and staff in the School of Art & Design who have spent time studying, living or working abroad. With its unique portrayal of traveling and creative art it serves as a unique way to experience other cultures.

Art & Design senior Jordan D. Zielke spent the winter studying art in Novia Scotia. There he said, he reflected “on his own identity, and what it meant to be an American artistic ambassador.”

As a vessel of American culture and art abroad, Zielke infused his work with new surroundings in addition to exploring his personal identity. One of his pieces is a hand-sculpted buffalo head, “a symbolic and romanticized analogy for westward travel,” covered in maps of the United States — “specific locations for your mind to wander.”

While traveling, one collects a suitcase full of experiences and interactions. Art & Design students and faculty can share these experiences through mediums like paint, pencil and charcoal, fabric, prints, photography and ceramic.

Kristin Needham, a senior in the School of Art & Design, studied the Intiglio printmaking technique in Cortona, Italy, a small city in Tuscany. Her piece “Vino Noble,” is a print of a wineglass with what looks like a journal entry in the background. Another senior in the program, Mia Schon, painted six portraits of local restaurant owners and house cleaners in the community where she was living: Paros, Greece. Pieces such as these share both a private moment and a personal experience through works of open-ended art.

“From Here to There” ranges from representations of the individual experience to communal feelings. Art & Design Assistant Prof. Hannah Smotrich spent the summer collaborating with two other faculty members on a community arts project surrounding the Jewish Cultural Festival in Krakow, Poland. Smotrich along with Stephanie Rowden, a sound artist at the School of Art & Design and a professor from the University of Montreal, created a forum for communicating thoughts and feelings about the festival. One comment in the installation piece, translated from Polish, expresses the need for art in changing times: “Kazimierz coming back to life fills me with happiness. Here we are appreciating culture while commemorating people of the past.”

“There are as many different approaches to making art as there are people,” Mark Neilsen, Director of Exhibits at Slusser, said as he walked around the gallery examining student work from every different part of the globe. “From Here to There” is an artistic fulcrum between the world and our campus — one that asks us to reflect and take part in the discussion about how we are growing as a community and as global citizens.