With autumn’s arrival, the undergraduate Art Department is looking back to the heat of summer.
Featuring pieces from students in fall art classes, “Solstice: Undergraduate Summer Art Exhibition” presents artwork produced over the summer, both independently and through programs in Norfolk, Conn., and Auvillar, France. With media ranging from video to sculpture, the exhibit demonstrates the kinds of work that are produced outside of the classroom, away from the expectations of structure, Associate School of Art Dean Samuel Messer ART ’82 said.
“Students are so used to fulfilling requirements and realizing other people’s ideas of what they should be making,” Messer said. “A lot of the work that we see in this show is more personal — the investigation may be more of what the person is thinking about rather than a formal exercise.”
This year’s exhibit, which recurs annually, was the first to invite students outside of the major to contribute work. But in spite of this open call for submissions, Director of Undergraduate Studies Lisa Kereszi ART ’00 said the bulk of the work was produced by art majors, with roughly five submissions from non-majors.
Three participating students interviewed described the freedom afforded them during the summer, a season that presents both a period of liberation and a test of one’s artistic discipline.
Andrew Wagner ’15, whose pieces include three photographs and a sculpture, discussed balancing the difficulty of producing on his own with the increased agency of creating outside of a formal framework.
“The photos are very different from what I’ve done in class in the past,” Wagner said. “I didn’t have to try to make something cohesive — I just created what came to my mind.”
Wagner added that working independently can be daunting because the art often has no wider audience, so a student exhibit such as “Solstice” provides the benefits of others’ reactions and opinions.
Among the exhibit pieces were works created by the two Yale students who participated in the Yale Summer School of Art and Music in Norfolk, Conn. The program, which takes place on the pastoral Stoeckel estate, accepts art students from around the world for a six-week session of workshops, lectures and independent studio work.
The products of this intensive period include a piece of video art created by Martina Crouch ’14, who made T-shirts reflecting her relationship with each of the 25 other students in the program. Called “A Play in 25 Acts,” the video tracks Crouch’s creation of each piece, focusing on the personal elements she adds to each.
“[This summer], I realized that I can perform as myself, and I don’t have to be a neutral identity,” Crouch said. “Art is so much about construction, but I’ve learned that the private is always public, and that my art can be about me as a person and not as a fictitious entity.”
Jennifer Mulrow ’14, who submitted photographs she took using a 4-by-5 view camera, assembled “semistaged” sets to play with questions of photographic truth. One photograph depicting two crumb-speckled napkins around a half-eaten birthday cake was taken after Mulrow’s mother baked the cake expressly for the shoot. The image is a part of a set representing “postfestive” events.
“[Photography] is its own truth,” Mulrow said. “It’s not necessarily real life, but it gives us the opportunity to create our own moment.”
“Solstice” opened on Sept. 18 and will be on view at the Green Hall Galleries through Oct. 4.