Although pinups and generic portraits are likely to line the walls of Yale dorm rooms for years to come, one local studio is looking to provide a viable and much more unique alternative.
The Flatfile is Artspace’s permanent collection, stored in drawers resembling filing cabinets, with works from regional artists that display local talent in mediums as diverse as collage, photography and more traditional drawings. The artists’ featured works are also available for viewing online at artspacenh.org/flatfile.
Artspace will hold its annual studiowide Flatfile show beginning April 1 with a silent auction that will culminate on Saturday, April 22. Every artist featured in the Flatfile contributes a work toward the benefit auction. While the entire collection is on sale the entire year, these donated works sell for 50 percent of the sticker price and all proceeds go to benefit Artspace, a nonprofit organization.
While prices for Flatfile works are higher than the ubiquitous mass-produced posters, they are considerably more affordable than most original fine art. Kauder said the average price runs about $250, while some pieces go for as low as $100. The half-price auction provides a more affordable option for the average Yale student to acquire an original work and support local art at the same time.
“Part of the goal of this project is to make collecting accessible and affordable,” Artspace Executive Director Helen Kauder said. “Price is always an issue.”
The collection of artists includes Yale alumni and faculty, such as Clinton Jukkala, a lecturer in painting and printmaking, and Art School Dean Richard Benson. Independent local artists fill out the rest of the collection. Most of the proceeds from the sale of Flatfile works go to the artists themselves, making purchasing a Flatfile work an act of community engagement through supporting the arts.
Many of these local artists are on the cusp of their careers, making the Flatfile a way to acquire emerging artists’ works before they go on to more prestigious art galleries. Kauder said one recent Flatfile alumnus is currently showing at the Whitney biennial in New York City.
“A lot of the artists here are young emerging artists,” she said. “We think they are on the rise. … A purchase is a kind of investment.”
The works themselves represent a variety of styles and mediums forming a cohesive and interesting collection with a few remarkable gems.
The works by Fethi Meghelli currently on display represent the more striking components of the Flatfile. While most of the rotating Flatfile shows that occupy one section of the art space studio year-round contain works by a variety of artists, this particular exhibit focuses solely on Meghelli’s art. The range of drawings poured out of his file occupy one wall, while an imposing textual piece resides on the other. The larger work highlights and reinforces themes explored in the monochromatic drawings from the file.
War, loss and the complexities of multi-cultural modernity all reside within the seemingly limited confines of the drawings. Meghelli’s work, which includes the lithograph “Who will remember,” inspires a multitude of emotions within the viewer, but, as one observer commented, she wouldn’t want them above her bed.
Other artists’ work, such as Amy Jean Porter’s small, witty drawings of North American mammals, would make a better fit next to the typical pictures of friends from home. These almost cartoon-like drawings look like they could have been downloaded off of some Internet site, until the viewer notices the finer details that simply could not have been produced by an inkjet printer.
Stephanie Jacobs LAW ’08 said that, for her, the price would be important in considering whether to make an investment in a work by a local artist. Since art is not one of her main interests, she said, she is less concerned about whether or not a work is original. Currently she has a large $100 work from Ikea that makes up for its mass production in convenience and price. Supporting local artists would be weighed along with the art’s personal appeal and utility.
“If it was my style of art, the price would be less of a factor,” Jacobs said.
Pricey, quirky and unique, the Flatfile at Artspace provides a unique opportunity to engage with the local artistic community and take some of it home.