Interactive Samek Gallery launch party encourages community to ‘Speak/Act/Make’

Mamta Badlani, Staff Writer

The Gallery Engagement Team (GET) hosted a launch party on Jan. 27 to promote the Samek Gallery’s spring exhibit titled “Speak/Act/Make.” The Samek Gallery is located on the third floor of the Elaine Langone Center and the exhibit will be on display through March 19.

“Speak/Act/Make” features artistic and social events that explore how diversity, inclusion, and unity currently function in American history. According to GET President Rebecca Reeve ’17, these ideas will be highlighted through performances, student actions, and audience participation to create social practice art, an experimental genre in which works of art transform into social interactions.

“What was really exciting, for me, about this exhibition was that all of the works were community based,” Reeve said.

The event also featured a set by local musician Billy Kelly, who began with a song called “The World Turned Upside Down” by U.K. songwriter Leon Rosselson in his own activist and social interactive contribution to the gallery.

“This is a song about people protesting against the 1 percent in 1649, and that should be incredibly depressing. But through the power of the song it actually ends up being quite inspiring,” Kelly said.

As the student organization in charge of publicizing the gallery, GET serves as a liaison between University students and the Samek Art Museum. The team plans galas, curates exhibitions, and partners with other student organizations to spread the word about the museum.

Reeve has made it her priority to spread the word about the Samek Gallery.

“I think the student body should be more aware of the valuable resource we have on our campus and take advantage of what it has to offer,” Reeve said.

Curated by the Director of the Samek Art Museum Richard Rinehart, the exhibition is continually growing through different events set throughout the semester. The museum staff incorporated a community voice in the direction of the exhibition by showcasing many student and faculty projects. Assistant Professor of Art & Art History Anna Kell’s Painting II and Painting III classes created a large black and white mural that is still a work-in-progress, and that asks community members to draw and write on the walls as they see fit.

Each piece serves to reflect on contemporary issues and the global state of society. Penn State graduate student Ciara Newton’s “Blackbone, Yellowbone, Redbone” highlights the role that black women play or are relegated to in society, and Fuzzy Woo Seo ’18’s “100 Composers” couples audio and visual media with audience participation to focus on reactions immediately before and immediately after the election of President Donald Trump.

Students made time after the event to contemplate the meaning of the art and the community’s response.

“There was a great space, like a chalkboard, where anyone could add their own artwork or quotes. Many chose to add words focused around the current political state of the world and diversity,” Bri Lepore ’19 said.

Student response to Woo Seo and his unique work has been positive.

“I really enjoyed a small piece that a student named Fuzzy created. It was a collection of one line ‘songs’ or melodies that students on campus were asked to compose. Each student was asked to write a few music notes. Some students took the liberty to add other images or pictures to their piece,” Lepore said.

Museum officials are excited by this positive response to the spring gallery launch and how the community will continue to engage with the pieces on display.

“My favorite part of the exhibition is that it is still ongoing… [I] enjoyed the piece by Jeong Woo Seo (Fuzzy), because he incorporated multiple perspectives on Bucknell’s campus. It was also really funny to see a lot of my friends and people I knew in the video that Fuzzy made to go along with his two-dimensional art piece,” Reeve said.

Many other performance art events will take place over the course of the exhibit, including Associate Professor of Theatre & Dance Anjalee Hutchinson’s “Devising Performance” course on March 2, and a print-making workshop with Assistant Professor of Art & Art History Eddy Lopez’s Printmaking II and Printmaking III courses on March 7.

“[As] so many aspects of the exhibition are ephemeral, the exhibition space serves as a record of the events that have or will happen over the course of the semester. I’m excited about Anjalee Hutchinson’s class performances, since this will be the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve featured theater performances in the galleries,” Samek’s Public Programs and Outreach Manager Greg Stuart said.

If the goal of audience participation is realized, the exhibit will be changing almost daily until its conclusion on March 17.

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