Artspace previews PBS series

Saturday afternoon, while the artwork of Yale professors is screened, artists of a younger variety will share the spotlight.

At 4 p.m. on September 17th, Artspace, on the corner of Orange and Crown streets, will host a screening of a new episode from the third season of the PBS series “Art:21.” A closing reception for the installation “Shih Chieh Huang: Organic Bending” will follow the screening.

According to the PBS Web site, each episode of the program “has been loosely organized around a theme — power, memory, play and structures — that can help audiences analyze, prepare and juxtapose.” Jessica Stockholder ART ’85, a professor at the Yale School of Art, is one of four artists featured in the episode of “Art:21,” titled “Play.”

In addition to previewing the television series, the PBS screening also serves to kick-off the closing reception for Artspace’s “Organic Bending.”

Housed in the untitled (space) gallery of the building, this show is the product of the fifth annual Summer Apprenticeship program. Fifteen students from seven New Haven public high schools worked with the experimental contemporary artist Shih Chieh Huang for three weeks to assemble an interactive installation.

According to Aliza Shvarts ’07, a current intern at Artspace, the project is “about the different moments and scenes you encounter as you walk through.”

Upon first wandering into the gallery, I thought that I may have been transported back to my jumbled dorm room.

My eyes focused on the eclectic mass of materials connected by lines formed by pencils, old straws and empty cans. Dollar store purchases and reconfigured childhood toys form part of the “living” environment created in the exhibit.

This is not art meant for admiration from a distance. It pulls you into its bizarre world of disassembled Discmans and blown-up plastic bags. Every student seems to have left his own personal mark on a part of the exhibit.

The viewer can see into the lives of the artists as one notices the little personal touches that have found their way into the final work. Cans of Red Bull reside next to preliminary drawings of the assembled contraptions.

Part of the long tradition of “found” art objects that stems from Marcel Duchamp and his “Fountain,” these artists attempt to make new settings for the objects while constructing them in innovative ways.

Some of the apprentices’ more conventional skills find their way into the exhibition. A series of drawings that may have been found in a school notebook are posted on one wall above a table full of “found” objects. An emaciated girl sketched in hard pen lines provides a commentary on the modern ideals of beauty.

Upon entering the exhibit, the visitor triggers the release of air into human-shaped bags that billow for a moment, then release back into a pile of lifeless plastic.

Elsewhere the lights of a console flick on and off as a wheel spins and creates an eerie soundtrack to what starts to look like the lab of a mad scientist. The visitor begins to feel like a trespasser in a private studio.

The repeated use of the preliminary drawings as wall coverings on the otherwise under-utilized space provides a glimpse into the creative process, giving a timeless quality to a work destined to have a limited life span. It will be taken down within a week.

As an exhibit, “Organic Bending” is an experience for students interested in the possibilities of modern art. Visitors are also supporting artistic outreach while experiencing the young talent of New Haven students.

‘Organic Bending,’ an installation exhibit currently showing at the Artspace gallery, combines the talents of artist Shih Chieh Huang and New Haven high school students to create a motley brew of ‘found’ objects.
Caio Camargo
‘Organic Bending,’ an installation exhibit currently showing at the Artspace gallery, combines the talents of artist Shih Chieh Huang and New Haven high school students to create a motley brew of ‘found’ objects.

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