Mel Zeigler exhibits in Samek Gallery

Rachel Chou, Assistant Campus Life Editor

When his collaborative partner Kate Ericson sadly passed away at the age of 39 from brain cancer, Mel Ziegler thought his career was over. Since then, Ziegler, who is the chair of the Department of Art at Vanderbilt University, has completed several projects and continues to lecture and exhibit throughout the world.

On Nov. 14 he presented his work as a featured artist in the Country Living exhibit, in front of a small audience in Samek Art Museum.

Many of Zeigler’s projects concern and highlight specific places and communities and the history behind them. One of his projects that exemplifies this is called “Messages from Murray” in which he had community members in Murray, Ky. write and draw messages on packing boxes. The community’s efforts were exhibited at Murray State University’s Clara M. Eagle Gallery and then distributed to local manufacturers for product shipments.

Another one of his projects is called “Downtown Mixer” in which he collected 1,600 samples of breath from participants working in eight high rises in Houston, Texas. He had each participant blow up a balloon and on it, draw a self portrait with sharpie marker. The balloons were placed throughout all the buildings, as a whimsical and fun touch to otherwise drab interior architecture. When the balloons later deflated, the resulting distorted image added an interesting touch to the project.

Many of Ziegler’s projects bring together communities with an ultimate goal of raising the social consciousnesses of the community members. Earlier in the day, he invited University students to participate in his new project. Students were asked to play a board game called “Life on the Farm” with farmers from the surrounding Lewisburg area.

“Ziegler’s projects reject the notion of art for art’s sake; instead, his work emphasized the integration of art and daily life,” Sean Xu ’15 said. 


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