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News & Stories: 2008-09

Uniforms and memory April 17, 2009

In the many pockets of the orange jumpsuit (with white cuffs) that is hanging on the wall of the (106) Gallery are cards containing neatly typed information: “Financial Crisis: We had a hard time in the 30s, but we made it." “Rap Music: Lil Wayne now has an eyebrow ring. He is the best.” Some of the cards are blank.

Riffing on Wikipedia

"It’s kind of a play on Wikipedia,” Joe Arens explains the suit, which he calls a uniform. “It’s like everyone feels they can be an information expert, and it’s all dumbed down … I’m not a sociologist or an anthropologist, but this suit is certainly incredulous of a Web 2.0 takeover—of all of us being made experts by just the prevalence of more information. More information doesn’t make us experts. It just makes us dealers in this amateur information.”

The uniform is one of many, some of which are clothing, and some of which are machines—and Arens performs inside each of them.

Arens, 23, is an artist and a Calvin bachelor of fine arts (BFA) major. The suits are part of the BFA Exhibition held at (106), Calvin’s downtown gallery space from Friday April 17 through Friday, May 1. The exhibition is a double show, also featuring the multimedia work of senior BFA student Karis Medina. The show will debut with a reception from 6-9 p.m. on the 17th.

Installing meaning

While Arens is explaining, Medina is hammering. On various walls of (106) she has installed large artworks composed of found objects. “I’ve always had fascination with things that are old things, that are falling apart …,” she said. “I asked, ‘Why do we hold on to movie tickets, flyers and old trinkets—just scraps of life experience?’ I realized that these objects were a way of putting ephemeral memory in physical form.” Pretty much everything in her installations is found, Medina said. “I’m interested in the construction of meaning … How do we place meaning and value on certain objects and certain ideas?”

Medina’s fascination with objects and the meaning was stimulated, she said by her own memory: “There were very few objects passed down in my family,” she said. “My parents were refugees from Cuba, and they were only allowed to bring three things.”

Arens and Medina’s BFA Exhibition is the first of two that will be held for spring, 2009. The second BFA Exhibition, featuring the work of seniors Natalie Good and Miranda  Brouwer, will be held May 1–9 at the Center Art Gallery.

Formerly all BFA students showed work at both galleries. “It’s the first time we’ve had two groups of two each,” said Joel Zwart, Calvin’s director of exhibitions. “Being in a one-man show or a show with just another artist has a lot of value … You get a little bit more concrete physical and artistic space in one show.”

A lot of work

The BFA exhibitions are the culmination of an intensive program, which requires students to achieve excellence in at least three from the whole spectrum of media: drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, photography and communication design.

"The BFA exhibition is a more hands-on show for the exhibiting students because they select the work and install it themselves,” said Calvin director of exhibitions Joel Zwart, adding, “These students produce a lot of work.”

~by Myrna Anderson, communications and marketing

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