‘Making Do’ showcases process, not product

Most Yale exhibits appear flawlessly — the products of long curatorial planning. But the Yale School of Art show “Making Do 3” plays by a different set of rules. The Green Hall Gallery invites four artists to work in-house for a week. The artists will “make do” with the given material of their choice. Contributing reporter Amanda Vandenberg sketches the scene.

When most people think about art, it can be assumed that a particular image comes to mind — a painting, a sculpture, a piece of architecture. Imagine the “Mona Lisa,” the “Winged Victory” and the Hermitage for a moment. Whatever the mental picture, it all results in the same tangible, polished, finished product: the finale.

But is that really what art is all about?

“Making Do 3,” which opens at the Green Hall Gallery tomorrow, challenges that idea: It looks to the process, not just the finished product. The third annual showcase of its kind, “Making Do 3” invites four artists to spend a few days at Yale and to indulge in the performance aspect of art, working in front of whatever part of the world happens to walk by.

“For much of the past two decades artists have luxuriated in an abundance of resources, new and old,” School of Art Dean Robert Storr wrote in the show’s invitation.

Now it is time to “make do” with only their chosen medium, walk into a space and create something, whether it is permanent or ephemeral. Sam Messer, associate dean of the School of Art, said he hopes to show student artists that process should not be neglected or traded in for a product-focused approach. The event gives students the opportunity to see art being created — not just to wake up and see a paintings miraculously hanging on gallery walls — and, more importantly, to see the very human person standing, working, in the gallery.

Among the artists participating are A.L. Steiner, Rick Briggs, Caroline Cox and Rodney McMillan, who will be working in the media of photo and video, paint, sculpture and installations, and performance art, respectively.

When it came to discussing the process of art, each was adamant about one thing: art is about immersion in the medium. In immersion, the artists echoed, it becomes all the more personal.

Each artist shared personal conceptions about the process and the final product with the News.

“[I] wanted to make my art more personal and reflective of my daily life, i.e., break down the gap between art and life,” said Briggs.

Briggs said he feels that this mentality of “make product, become successful” detracts from the importance of the process — “where things really happen.”

Cox uses dollar-store materials ranging from netting to mirrors and fishing bobs to create breathtaking installations, such as the hanging, larger-than-life piece, “Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky.” This piece emphasizes the additive process and the idea of shifting illusions and optical fields. The viewer experiences a new revelation whether above or below, Cox said.

“It has a layered approach, using gravity and perception. It looks outward and to self,” she explained.

Steiner’s work focuses on making art accessible and on the dialogue between artist and viewer. She plans to let each person choose from 1 million photos in her exhibit in exchange for an interview on why they chose a particular photo. This process — this series of exchanges — creates the art, Steiner said.

“It’s integral to my work, so I appreciate the exhibition of [the dialogue],” said Steiner.

No matter the medium, it appears that the process is the soul of the artist. What makes it art is the reflection on interactions with the world, personal to each artist. “Making Do” is creating some natural magic — the art of the process.

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