Visual imagery, unexpected juxtapositions and the merging of the conscious with the unconscious were characteristics that defined and brought forth surrealist art in the mid-1920s. To join and contribute to an ever-enticing artistic movement that saw such greats as Salvador Dali and Max Ernst, students and faculty of the USF School of Art and Art History present their collaborative works. As this revolutionary art of bringing together fantasy and rationality descends on the William & Nancy Oliver Gallery this week, the Exquisite Corpse art exhibition takes form.
Assistant professor Gregory Green organized the exhibit, which has been actualized by the students, staff and faculty alike. Their participation as a whole determines the outcome of the show. It is a weeklong event showcasing the evolving collaborative efforts of all participants.
The exquisite corpse is a method of art wherein each person contributes by adding to a composition in a sequence. The person may or may not be allowed to see the end of the previous person’s contribution. According to Green, this technique was invented by surrealist artists in the mid-1920s. Surreal art is meant to be fantastic and bizarre in principle. In terms of drawing, for instance, a page would be folded into thirds with each third being worked on by a different artist. Eventually, the top third of the page may show a human head, the middle third an animal torso, and the bottom third alien legs.
This technique is mirrored in the exhibit this week. The gallery comes alive as eager individuals surround a long table, bespattered with canvases of various sizes of paper and a sea of drawing materials, in order to create otherworldly artwork.
Matthew Hamilton and Sammy Rausch, both USF freshmen, worked on their drawings, taking turns continuing each other’s work on folded sheets of paper.
“It was an amazing display of human ingenuity and the ability of the human mind to create,” said Hamilton, while sequentially adding to Rausch’s drawing.
Rausch was equally engrossed in the drawings.
“Tying the different aspects of community and art into the creation of one solid piece of work was an interesting concept,” said Rausch. She completed a drawing that started off as an eagle but eventually materialized into “a phoenix-like bird-man.”
“This has been mind-blowing,” she said. “Although I am an art history major, I’m sure that anybody and everybody will have a great time. People shouldn’t miss out on participating in this great interactive show.”
Alan Moore, assistant professor for the USF Art and Art History Department, was seen devotedly experimenting with different colors and drawing utensils along with other graduate students and faculty members. Excited upon examining Hamilton and Rausch’s artwork, Moore put their abstract drawings on the walls of the gallery.
“Painting and drawing parties have been a traditional way to build community. It’s a great scheme,” said Moore. Having specialized in contemporary art and critical theory, he was pleased that “something of this nature has come to pass here.”
To add to the artistic incentive, Green has planned growing levels of entertainment every day at the evening exhibit. The band Giddy Up Helicopter will be performing Friday evening for the exhibition’s closing
reception. A sale of the drawings will also be held that night.
“Collected proceeds will go to create a fund for the graduate students and faculty to dip into to realize other community-based projects,” Green said.
As the show evolves over the course of the week, the anxiety to behold the final picture formed after amalgamating the individual pieces together builds incessantly. “Who knows what else will come about,” Green said.
Exquisite Corpse is on display in the Oliver gallery today from 6-11 p.m. The closing reception is Friday from 7-11 p.m.