The Samek Art Museum is currently showcasing two exhibitions: “10: Artist as Catalyst” is shown at the Downtown Gallery through Dec. 1, while “Damaged Goods: The Punk Aesthetic” is located at the Campus Gallery through Dec. 8.
The exhibition “10: Artist as Catalyst” is a collection of artworks from 10 artists in 1992 that addresses social and political issues through print mediums. These politically-charged prints were displayed at the Alternative Museum, which was established by artists who wanted a safe space to display political art that critiqued long-standing social institutions and government. In the 1980s, public funding for these artists was limited to offset these societal critiques, inciting a “culture war.” This collection was originally sold to make a statement on the reduced arts funding and support the Alternative Museum.
Many of the prints in the collection utilize collage and different mediums to emphasize the many political statements of the artwork. One of the prints in the collection, “American Noir” by Jerry Kearns, uses collage to combine a cartoon depiction of a young woman, Frederick Church’s painting “Niagara,” and a picture of the Ku Klux Klan marching.
“I thought that the most interesting part of the collection is how different each piece is from one another. Each piece of artwork has its own distinct style and makes commentary on different social issues,” Charlotte Simon ’22 said.
“Damaged Goods: The Punk Aesthetic” focuses on the “punk” culture of the mid-70s to mid-80s. The loud and shocking music and fashion of the era deliberately rejected social norms and defined its members as outsiders. Punk culture encouraged people to DIY their own clothes and accessories, allowing them to create their own identity.
The on-campus exhibit is arranged chronologically into four waves of punk culture: prototype, first-wave punk, post-punk and new wave and hardcore and anarcho punk. The collection displays concert flyers, photos, buttons, posters and zines to show the essence and development of the movement. The images incorporate techniques such as animated illustrations, collages and graphics. The exhibit features the work of Peter Saville, Jamie Reid and many more.
“I liked how the exhibit was displayed chronologically and you can see the development of the culture over time and the changes made within the society over time,” Simon said.