By Jane Bowden
A phone rang in the middle of gallery 119 in the Art & Interactive Multimedia building, but no one dared to answer it to disturb the echoing silence. The sunlight flickered on and off behind the trees as it poured in through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Then, the walls began to ooze black slime.
No, this isn’t the Hash Slinging Slasher terrorizing the College — the student exhibits of senior fine arts majors Cara Giddens and Carly Englander introduced universal themes of intrusive thoughts and long-distance relationships through thought-provoking mediums of painted clay shaped to look like black ooze and a live performance.
In her exhibit “Pervade,” Giddens captured her the concept of impulsive thoughts that come into a person’s mind suddenly when there is no trigger in their visual environment. Using white paint to cover objects found in everyday life, such as an armchair and a rug, she incorporated black clay shaped into bubbling ooze to symbolize the threatening nature of ideas.
“I want to invoke a feeling of discomfort and futility with my viewers, with a bit of humor mixed in. The entire space is just supposed to look wrong, you know?” Giddens said. “You can pick out pieces that are clearly objects that you recognize, such as the armchair, the rug, the frames … but the fact that they have been altered by the paint and ooze makes them uncanny and odd.”
Giddens’ exhibit also included other untitled art pieces, like a porcelain-white faucet leaking black clay into an overflowing bowl and dozens of picture frames covered in bubbling, black material.
“(Intrusive thoughts have) become a part of my life, and every piece in the show is a metaphor of all these weird thoughts trickling in and invading every aspect of my life. The white paint tries to claim some sort of pristine unity and is intended to cover up the ooze, but as you can see in all of the pieces, it’s a useless effort.”
In the other student exhibit, “Familiarity,” Englander integrated materials with a live performance to portray the growth of her long-distance relationship with her significant other who lives in England.
Through her pieces, “Me and You,” “Kissing You That Week” and “Both of Us,” Englander highlighted a few of her intimate moments in her relationship. Included was a tapestry covered in a handwritten conversation between the pair, strips of paper that correlated with each time the two kissed within a week and two screens that continuously displayed seperate 15-minute compilation videos of their Facetime chats.
“I want viewers to connect what they see in my show to aspects of their own life,” Englander said. “Whether it is a significant other, past love or even a family member that they can attribute the same value of affection, love and effort towards. I want my work to bring up feelings of love.”
For her two-hour live performance titled, “I’ll Make Our Bed When You’re Not Here,” Englander sat upon a mattress, wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt as she planted pink hydrangeas and white mums.
During the last 20 minutes of her performance, Englander scattered the strips of paper from “Kissing You That Week” to symbolize fertilizer, and then she laid in the garden she had planted in the mattress.
“The purpose of this was to represent the different things one would need to do in order to maintain a relationship,” Englander said. “Much like taking care of a plant, a relationship will die without care. Especially when first meeting your partner, it is a rocky and unstable — similar to trying to plant flowers into a mattress. With time, patience, love and attention, life will flourish.”