School of Art and Design Junior Cassie McQuater and artist Sam Strand use colorful language to describe their colorfully-named exhibit. “Shit Y’all (Somewhere There’s a River)” is showing at the Canterbury House until April 20th.
“The title of our exhibit is basically us acknowledging that we aren’t exactly where we want to be in life right now and saying ‘Shit, everyone, I wish things could have been different,’ ” McQuater said in an e-mail interview.
“The second part of the title, and perhaps the more important part, ‘somewhere there’s a river,’ is the idea of hope, really, as if we know we’ll be where we need to be soon,” she said. “Our exhibit really followed this theme: an initial disappointment followed by the realization that these things happen and that’s OK.”
Canterbury House is a campus church and a venue for the performing and visual arts. Its walls are covered with the two artists’ work.
The entire exhibit takes on the feeling of a vintage road trip – the pieces of art on display are made with postcards, maps, scrapbooks and Polaroid pictures, which capture the disjointed scenes, restless conversation and soul searching of a long journey. While the venue is small and intimate, by the time you’ve made your way around the exhibit, you’ll feel as though you’ve traveled quite a bit.
The exhibit was largely influenced by a road trip to the southern states. But mostly, it is made up of the artists’ experiences in the past year.
“Some of the things we see, the things we feel, the things people have done to us (influence our work),” McQuater said.
Just by looking at the titles of the pieces, one can gain insight into the thought process that went into the exhibit. One piece, for example, is named, “i should’ve listened to my friends and not had sex with you.”
McQuater and Strand met their freshman year. It was during this year they worked on their art individually, yet found themselves constantly asking each other for input or suggestions. Over the next two years, McQuater and Strand began to collaborate on their art.
“When you find someone who sees things the same way as you, both aesthetically and personally, it’s a really exciting thing whenever you sit down to start a project together,” McQuater and Strand said in an e-mail they wrote together. “Even when we work individually, we always talk about our shit together.”
One of the innovative ways they sort through and reinvent their individual material is by spreading all their “shit” out in their attic and looking at it all until inspiration strikes.
“Sometimes the things that hit us first are words or phrases and we develop some pictures to match them,” they explained. “With our photos, we take them on our own and bring them back to the house, put them in a huge pile and play a match game like War (with the photographs), but friendlier.”
“All of the pictures we took individually are then combined in a series that we create, order, and title together,” they said. “We usually make up stories and some of them are hilarious and some of them are horrifying and some of them just work.”
Their collaborative thinking is evident in their work and reminds the viewer of a conversation between two close friends – conversations that sit on the border between the confessional and the whimsical.