Torn slips of paper fill the room. Strung up in orderly rows on three walls, their smooth whiteness is marred by drops of black paint that randomly stream across their surfaces. There are 3,043 in all; each represents a person killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or in Somerset, Pa.
“Mark: September 11,” the feature piece of artwork at a local gallery commemorating the terrorist attacks, was created by local artist Kristin K.B. Breiseth. The work is displayed at Artspace, a New Haven nonprofit arts organization whose showroom is located at 50 Orange St.
In addition to the Breiseth piece, Artspace is currently home to an exhibit titled “Proper Villains,” a colorful tribute to the fallen of Sept. 11 designed by David Hunt.
Artspace Director Helen Kauder said “Proper Villains,” which has been open since Aug. 10 and will be on display until Sept. 28, comprises work from both national and local artists.
“[Hunt] had gotten to know a number of New Haven artists and was following them and their careers,” Kauder said. “It’s a real mix of national and New Haven artists, and it really brings New Haven artists into the national mix.”
She added that Hunt had been invited to produce and display a project of his own choosing on the strength of both his curatorial ability and writing skills. Hunt chose an exhibit about Sept. 11.
“We find David Hunt’s writing pretty interesting,” Kauder said. “We knew he would contribute a really compelling catalogue to enrich the show; he put together a strong proposal, and we thought it would be a great introduction to this space.”
Hunt, an art curator in New York, said “Mark: September 11” is not actually a part of his exhibit but was commissioned separately by the gallery. The art contained in “Proper Villains,” Hunt said, is colorful and not at all restrained or somber.
“It’s pop. It’s loud,” Hunt said.
In the last year, he added, many New York galleries opened exhibits to honor Sept. 11 that he found commercial and sickening.
“To me, it was very cheap,” Hunt said. “[‘Proper Villains’] is a respite from the images you might see on CNN. It celebrates; it has humor in it.”
As an example, Hunt described a piece in his exhibit that portrayed a “U.S. Department of Bunnies,” by Lilah Freedland — a stark contrast to the somber “Mark: September 11.”
“‘Proper Villains’ is a very villainous kind of show,” Hunt said.
Another featured artist in the exhibit, Jaime Ursic, now works at the Yale University Art Gallery in an outreach program that targets different professional schools and Yale undergraduates. Ursic praised “Proper Villains” because the salon-style display does an excellent job of focusing the viewer’s attention.
“[Hunt] packed the space available,” she said. “Everywhere you look, it’s visual stimulation.”
Ursic said most of the artwork displayed at Artspace is modern and uses new, innovative techniques to enhance traditional methods.
“They use everything,” Ursic said of Hunt’s artists. “I’ve seen Elmer’s glue, thread and puncture holes. It really redefines a new idea of painting and what paint can be without being paint.”
Ursic said she used materials such as woods and silks in her contribution to “Proper Villains” in an attempt to convey a sense of colorfulness through mostly monochrome grays and blacks.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”19846″ ]